Published on May 3rd, 2016 | by Gary Mullen0
Review: Stranger of Sword City
The game takes place just after a plane crash from the devastation it seems there is a single survivor, you have survived somehow when no one else was lucky enough to. You come out from the wreckage. It seems you are the chosen one which it turns out later on in more ways than one. The plan is simple, to find a way home from this island, however this is no safe island your path will be full of many foes and friends on route to your end goal.
As you leave the plane crash you are greeted with what you think will be your first friend however it seems not all is to be believed and your new friend is a fake. As you make a hasty escape the game starts with what can only be described as dungeon crawler using a first person view. Movement is set up in a block mode, where you can move a block back, forward, left or right. Not all the options are available all of the time as your surroundings limit your movement. I am not totally sure what I make of this way of playing, in many way I would have preferred a more free roaming walking however with the first point view, this mode is actually quite a good layout but perhaps more suitable to the PS Vita than a console.
The game progresses on to the city and you are asked to join the Stranger Guild. The main story moves on from here as you join them in their battle against evil. During the journey you learn how you became the chosen one in more than one way. It turns out that you hold some special powers and are one of a very few who can absorb blood crystals. Once a crystal is absorbed it gives you a point to unlock abilities for the the character. As you are in a group you can give the crystal to any of the other chosen characters or to use them on your own character.
During the battle scenes you control both your character and other players in the party. The battle mode is turn based and is a flat 2D interface. You don’t see any fighting really happening, you select your strike and then you see a graphic of an attack. The thing that shocked me was the lives that were available for each member of my party. I just assumed that when they died I could bring them back to life. Well yes I could but only so many times per person (different “life point” for each character.) After life point zero you would lose them forever… Now there is harsh and then there is this, I mean this is really harsh, so harsh that I did restart back to a save from 2 hours before the game I was playing as I could not take one of my team being gone. I remembered playing another JRPG and sometimes if I had a choice of giving someone extra health/protecting them more or finishing a certain boss then I would go for the latter, however this put a different spin on that mindset. In many ways it’s one of the great selling points of this game as you are having to think more tactically compared to games like Final Fantasy which at times you fight the bosses in a very carefree approach.
The point that’s going to be an issue or a great point for many is the sheer amount of grinding that you need to do in this game and the knock on effect the amount of life points each player has when you are doing this boss grinding. I did spend well over a 3 hours in one stretch solely fighting baddies to level my players up for a big boss fight. It’s really hard to say if I hated that task or enjoyed it. In many ways it just felt like going through the motion without too much thought process being used.; however I did find myself wanting to fight the easier enemies to ensure I had the best level suitable for the big bosses due to the fear of losing one of my characters once and for all.
Besides from that there really is not too much more to talk about in this game without giving away too much about the story. The graphics on this game are not cutting edge next generation but they are not trying to be so it’s acceptable. Music used in the game is what I would consider standard for most of the JRPG and fits quite well into the certain environment.
So where does this actually leave us? I mean after all I did enjoy the game, but it could be seen as just too nasty for many of non JRPG with the life points and the sheer amount of grinding needed to be done. Then you have the aspect of perhaps it’s not a game that’s designed for the Xbox interface but more suitable for the handheld market. On the flip side the fact I was willing to throw away hours of game play just to get one of my characters back does imply that there was a certain level of fondness to my team that I was controlling.
Summary: This is a JRPG that fun to play without setting the world on fire as being a great game. Oh and don't forget to save the game often!