Strange of Sword City Review
When was the last time you finished a game and walked away feeling like it was a complete experience? A game that seriously made you have to take a deep breath when it was over and reflect on the time you spent with it? There are plenty of great video games, but there are few classics. For anyone who’s looking for a true RPG experience, Stranger of Sword City may be your new favorite game.
The first thing you’ll do when starting Stranger of Sword City is character creation. You pick the look of your character from over 60 pre-designed pictures of humans, elves, dwarfs and other various looks. Once you’re done picking your look, you must choose your character’s age. This is actually really important, because whatever age you select affects how many Life Points and bonus experience points you receive. Life Points equal how many times a character can die during your play through. Younger characters can have three, middle aged characters two, and elderly characters one. Once your character loses all of their Life Points they can no longer be recovered. Life Points can be recovered by resting your characters for long periods of time or by paying insane amounts of money; however if you have a character with one Life Point, there is no way to revive them. So why would you want to create an old character if they can only die once? The trade is that the older the character the more bonus experience points they receive.
After you select the age of your character, you get the option of “rolling” for bonus experience points, which just means press a button to randomize some numbers. If you have a young character, there’s a good chance that you’ll start off with three bonus xp, but you have the chance to get anything from three to nine. You can press the “roll” button as many times as you’d like, but you’ll soon realize that it will almost always be three or four so when you see a six pop up, you have to really think if you want to risk losing that because it could be a long time to get it again. I usually spent a few minutes rolling to see if I could get something higher and the majority of the time I settled for something in the middle of the minimum and maximum.
Once you’ve created your character, the story begins. You find yourself in a strange place and don’t know where you are. There are people who excited that you’ve appeared and would like you to help them. It’s not a mind blowing story by any means, but it does have some pretty awesome elements. As time goes on, you are introduced to three different kingdoms. Each one asks for you to give them Blood Crystals that you find after defeating “Lineage” enemies. When you give them these Blood Crystals, you’re able to select a power and it advances the game’s story.
Each battle in Stranger of Sword City feels like life or death. This isn’t the type of game that you can just queue up attacks while you’re watching Netflix. You have to strategically plan out your magic attacks, heals, and what type of attacks you’re going to do in each and every fight. Because death is permanent and there is no revive spell, you may find yourself in a lot of stressful situations. The best recommendation I can give is to always know where the nearest exit is, because once you head back to town, your health and mana are refilled. The downside to leaving an area is that the enemies on the level will reset and you’ll have to battle a few mandatory fights again. This is really a small price to pay to ensure that your most experienced warriors don’t die. If they do die though, it is not the end of the world, but it will make you have to spend some time grinding to get your newly registered companion up to snuff. I’ll talk about companions in depth a little later, but first I have to talk about Morale Points.
Morale Points are a unique system that give your character the ability to call certain spells without using any mana. Examples of these spells are health regeneration, stronger attacks, higher defense, and group attacks. Certain skills can even be stacked so they can have a more beneficial effect. As you progress through the story you’ll start to get more Morale Points and you can use more skills in battle. To gain Morale Points all you have to do is attack enemies. It’s not a complicated system, but it is very valuable and should be used generously. You also use Morale Points to ambush enemies to receive better loot, but that will be covered later.
To get new companions all you have to do is register them at the Strangers Guild. The nice thing is that you can register a ton of companions so you can try to out different classes. A nice feature in Stranger of Sword City is that whenever you register a new companion their experience will be based off of the amount off of your main character, however they still start at level one. This makes it a smoother transition than to just have a level 1 character that needs to spend hours leveling up to 10+. You simply take them into battle and as long as they don’t die you’ll see them level from 1 to about 6 after one fight.
The Stranger’s Guild also allows you to switch party members whenever you like. Whichever party members are not active are being “trained” which means that they are gaining experience. This experience though won’t actually level them, so if you have a level 12 fighter they won’t go from 12 to 13, but rather gain experience that will only require them to fight one or two times to get from level 12 to 13. Every time you check on your resting companions you will receive money that they found on their adventures. I’d recommend that if you have a lot of people sitting out that you check on them whenever you head back to the Strangers Guild so you can collect money and check on their progress.
Stranger of Sword City has a unique way of getting better gear for your group. There are locations around the world where you can “ambush” enemies. During the ambush you have a certain amount of turns to kill the leader of the group before they escape. If they escape you just receive experience and some money, but if you successfully kill them you get some type of gear. These ambushes cost Morale Points and the costs increase over time. This prevents you from repeatedly ambushing and getting all the phat loots in one sitting. One nice feature is that you will know what type of gear you’ll be getting beforehand and you can choose to pass if it’s something you don’t want. This is essential to your party’s success, so I recommend you start getting used to ambushing early in the game.
As you progress in the game, you’ll find that the maps are fairly large and most of them have an area that is blocked until you progress in the game. Within each level there are stones that you can discover to teleport yourself to and from town. This makes getting in and out of levels so much easier than having to use the main entrance and exit every time. Without these, Stranger of Sword City would be a much longer and much more difficult game.
Overall it’s really hard to explain enough about the incredible details of Stranger of Sword City that will really do them justice. For anyone who is looking for a real adventure that will test you time and time again, this is definitely a game you want to pick up. I’ve had my PlayStation Vita since launch and I can say honestly that in the last four years that Stranger of Sword City is the game I’ve been looking for.
Final Score: 4.5/5
Thank you to NIS America for providing the code.