Stranger of Sword City (Xbox One) Review
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Posted 14 March 2016 - 06:20 PM
Stranger of the Sword City, is a dungeon crawler Role Playing game. Think on the lines of Phantasy Star or The Bard's Tale. The game is set to be released on March 22nd. The price is 40 dollars, or 30 if you preorder now. Interestingly enough, the game will come with a free 8 hour trial of the full game. (Like Ea Access)
The game is digital only. Unless you want to import the Japanese disc version. Experience Inc. has confirmed that the disc version has the English language options. Amazon.jp, Play Asia etc - are some options if you want the disc version.
The games starts with your plane disappearing and crashing. You find yourself alone in dungeon. After finding your way out with the help of a mysterious woman, you follow her to Sword City and find out what it means to be a stranger.
You play the game in a first person perspective. You move in a grid like fashion. There is a map - and if you have been to that square on the map - you can fast move back to that location or to the exit. Which helps not to get lost (as easy).
You quickly get a full party of 6 which you can customize however you want. This is where the game really shines. I love the character creation. The game features several character classes, such as human, elves, dwarves, ney and migmy. With several portraits to choose from for your characters.
You can pick a character's age. What this does is, the younger the person, the fewer the bonus skill points to give, but they have more life points. The older the person, the more bonus skill points but fewer the life points. Basically if you die in the game, you can spend time in the recovery room. However if you lose all you life points, your character dies. Perma-death. It is interesting choice you need to make, when creating the character.
You can also, pick voices and character classes. Mages, Warriors, Ninjas, etc. Each will have a role to play in your party.
The games battles are turn based. You can use, a fast attack, mode so you do not have to watch the whole animations play out. You can also use, last turn, to do the same actions again. Be wary of this, as I died once or twice, spamming last attack, as I should have healed.
As for gameplay. The game is not easy. There is normal mode, and beginner mode. The issue here, is that random enemies can sometimes be a lot higher than, that of your party. You need to be careful and not just spam attack, without looking at the enemies level. For example, the level 10 Orc in a certain dungeon, looks like the level 20 Orc. So spamming attack, will get yourself killed.
The game requires a lot of returning to the city (Stranger's Guild), which heals you fully. There is no save points in a dungeon. So you must return to the city to save. There are certain warp points in dungeons that you can return to, after finding them, however.
Graphics and Sound:
The graphics in the game are nice, but they do not take full advantage of all the Xbox One can do. Now that can be forgiven, as the developer is small. The game was originally released on the Xbox 360 and Windows in Japan.
The artwork in the game is fantastic. It supports two models. The original is, vintage high-fantasy style NPC artwork from artist Yoko Tsukamoto. For the Xbox One version a more modern anime style style, by artist Oxyjiyen. Players are free to pick either one for their player portraits. You can switch between the two styles at anytime, from the menu.
As for the sound and music, I found that it matched the atmosphere quite well. Several of the areas feel quite desolate, and the sounds portrays that. When a battle begins the music kicks up, and the battles feel intense.
Achievements / Replay:
There is are several items to collect, and several dungeons to explore. Many of the rarer items can be found in the game's hiding system. Which is uses divinity points (gained from fighting). To do surprise attacks on enemies who have a mini-boss along with a treasure. So there is lots of unique items to find. The game's developers have said that there is a total of 40 hours of gameplay. So it is a good bang for your buck. Since the game is not super easy, I could see returning to the city, to heal, selling your gear, grinding for experience, etc taking a lot longer than 40 hours.
The games achievements are not live yet. So I can not comment on how they will increase the replay value. I will update when that is known. The achievements I know are the ones I got in game. Examples of ones are obtained were, do a certain task for the first time, and obtain a certain class of gear for the first time. So these known ones to me, so far, in terms of extending replay - are the obtain rare gear variety.
In conclusion, I would say this is a game to try. I really enjoyed it. If I were to give it a score value I would say a solid 8 out of 10. However, the game might not be for you. In that case, give the game a try with the 8 hour trial. I am personally hoping the game sells well enough, to get other companies interested in bringing some of their games over to Xbox.
Again, Stranger of Sword City releases on March 22nd 2016. By Experince Inc. A copy was provided to me, for review purposes.
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