Game: Stranger of Sword City
Platform: Xbox One, PC, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Release: March 22, 2016
As a fan of RPG’s (both Japanese and western respectively) since the younger years of my life, I’ve played many that’s ranged from Chrono Trigger back on the SNES to the re-release of Final Fantasy Type-0 on the current consoles. But nothing could’ve prepared me in all of my years of playing RPG’s with the monster that Stranger of Sword City actually is.
Stranger of Sword City starts you off with the opening of a news report about a plane crashing from the real world to the mysterious fictional world of Sword City in the beginning. You wake up in a dark dungeon and have nothing to your name or no memory as to why you’ve even gotten there. But as you begin to progress in this dungeon your suddenly approached by this strange elderly man who begins to weirdly lead you into the talk about you being the chosen one and how much people have begin to anticipate your return, only for him to tell you how much he wants you to die. With a flash on the screen a dragon appears, But suddenly a stranger (no pun intended, seriously) leaps from the sky to kill the dragon and throwing in you into the very first boss battle with said strange woman in your party as an ally.
Thus after all is said and done you begin to learn about why you inhabit the title of Stranger in this realm that grants you use and abilities that others don’t have, you soon to learn that your main reason of being here is not only to keep the folks of Sword City safe, hunting Lineage types collecting blood crystals from the Lineage types you kill. This is where Stranger of Sword City finally begins to really get started story wise.
The gameplay of Stranger of Sword City can be a tad bit confusing the start of playing simply because of the first person camera wolfenstein-like camera that’s used instead of a traditional top down camera that a dungeon crawler RPG uses. The exploration ties into the first person perspective as each step unveils a brand new part of the map as you can explore. The Dungeon’s in Stranger of Sword City have more labyrinth esque styled layouts. They have the usual rooms that a dungeon would consist of from the treasure rooms, monsters and traps. Even rooms for you to special skills in like Hide.
The world itself its simple enough to travel around in, select where you want to go and from there you can go there or if you already have the place unlocked you can fast travel to it simply from your headquarters which is known as the Strangers’ Guild. A place where you can restock and recharge if needed.
The conversation and interactions in the game are very visual novel based, its more reading as there’s no true voice acting involved, you’ll hear a few sounds for added effect but for the most part you’ll be reading quite a bit. You have choices that you can pick from to continue the conversation. Its represented by the characters stepping on screen with more of the portraits moving around in various poses as the conversation continues on throughout the entirety of the game. Also to be added in, all the voice acting is in japanese as many RPG’s seems to follow these days. The combat also follows in the same regards, while being turn based yet having the visual novel portrait style available.
The customization of Stranger of Sword City is pretty standard based, you have a portrait to choose from which will do nothing besides be there visually, but the interesting portion comes from the next few things that you can choose from, depending on how high or low you make your characters age the quicker or slower you can be revived once said character is dead. You have a majority of classes to choose from such as the Fighter, Knight, Samurai, Cleric, Wizard, Ranger, Ninja & Dancer. You can’t play as any other race but you can have other types of races in your party.
The core combat follows in strict older Final Fantasy styled gameplay with its turn based mechanics and Front & Back battle system. The front being your main three who can take and dish out damage, and your back three who plays supporting roles (Clerics, Wizards & Rangers), The setups can be changed around depending on how you want the party to be set up, and everyone has their own individual spells and stats. Another feature to the combat system is with the ease of a button you can repeat every action that you just did and fast forward the process repeatedly. The key to surviving Stranger of Sword City is knowing your classes strength and weaknesses.
– Solid plot, which is genuinely better than expected.
– Beautiful Artwork from the portraits having a choice in appearance to the backgrounds in action.
– Good character creation system that has many ways to build your character.
– Very good traditional turn based battle system.
– Unreasonably difficult enemies, especially early on in the game.
– Major Grindfest, it takes quite sometime to begin to get that ball rolling to start leveling up your characters.
– The lack of a traditional top down camera for a dungeon crawler.
All in all, Stranger of Sword City is a really good game. It has some pretty unique aspects behind it that separates itself from other dungeon crawlers in its lane. From the solid plot which is alright enough to draw you in a little bit, the beautiful artwork and animation throughout the game and having the choice to switch between the two particular styles of animation was a great touch and add-on, great character creation system that allows you to have a little fun with your builds and the very classic turn based battle system brought me back to the more older days of Good RPG’s. But the unreasonably difficult enemies throughout the start of the game and then leading on no matter what the difficulty can be kind of upsetting, not to mention that this game begins to become a hell of a grindfest even from the beginning you’ll be going through very slow level ups for your party which will lead into a long grind and the lack of a traditional camera for a dungeon crawler leading into this first person view which feels odd.
But I’ll be giving Stranger of Sword City for Xbox One..
FINAL SCORE: 3/5
Stranger of Sword City brings something defining to the dungeon crawling RPG lane, From solid stories, great artwork, a good creation system and a nod to the past with its traditional turn based system. But the main gripes of the game also take away what could be with this from the ridiculously difficult enemies, how hard you’ll have to grind and attempting to get used to the non traditional dungeon crawler camera. But, This game does switch it up in its area and brings a breath of fresh air to this type of RPG. Overall, Its worth the play.