Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: Stranger of Sword City
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release Date: 04/26/2016
The main game/story
Developed by Experience (the same developer behind last year’s Operation Abyss), this first person dungeon crawler puts you in control of a character you create, who just survived a plane crash and is now in a mysterious desert. Before long, you’re attacked by monsters and barely escape to the nearby city, only to find out that you have mysterious powers. You must then set out to find a way back home and to discover the mysteries of the strange world you ended up in.
Due to the core gameplay being incredibly similar to Operation Abyss, it’s understandable to see that the menus of the game are pretty similar to that title, with a main focus on building up your custom team back at the guild and taking them through first person dungeons with random encounters. However, what makes Stranger of Sword City a bit more interesting in terms of the visuals comes with its art style. For those who prefer the anime art style of Operation Abyss, Style B can be selected from the options to change the portraits of certain characters to that style, while the default Style A is a more western RPG inspired art style. Unfortunately, neither the characters you create or the preset ones given at the start will change according to the art style, meaning that if you’re rather picky about wanting every character to be in the same style, you have to make sure of that when creating your custom characters. This option to switch between art styles along with minor touches such as better looking 3D models for the dungeons give this game a bit of an edge over Operation Abyss in terms of the visuals.
Music and Sound
Unlike the ominous soundtrack of Operation Abyss, Stranger of Sword City has a more varied soundtrack, although unfortunately not too many of the songs are memorable, outside of the battle themes which are fantastic and flow well with the fights. Once again, there’s voice acting included in the game, although it tends to plprotagonist ay during battles or key scenes, and the voice actors seem to sound rather disinterested than normal. Maybe it’s just me playing through tons of games with Japanese voice acting lately, but something about the voices sounded a bit off, though thankfully you can customize your character’s voice from a variety of options.
Stranger of Sword City will take no time at all to show you that it means business, especially compared to Operation Abyss. In that review from almost a year ago, I mentioned how it felt like the game had a lot of options and was rather challenging, yet still very rewarding once you got around to things. With Stranger of Sword City however, it’ll take a lot longer to get used to the game and to not die a lot. Enemies hit hard and you’ll need to level grind to even stand a chance in the first dungeon. Luckily after the first few battles you’ll gain the options to buy items from the shop and create more characters, but even then you’ll still need to grind quite frequently, unless you get lucky enough to find a powerful weapon drop that to blaze through a bit of the game. When a character dies, you can choose to either wait for them to recover (which takes quite a while) or revive them faster at the expense of a Life Point. Once the life points run out, there’s no more resurrection for you, so it makes death a much more brutal task, and that’s a shame considering how in the early game it’s likely you’ll be losing lots of characters for long periods at a time, save for the main protagonist who at least is allowed to revive right away for the first bit of the game. Still, slowly but surely you’ll make it through the wide variety of dungeons, and there’s even an item you can use to change the difficulty to make things easier. The only problem is said item takes a while to obtain, so even that may be a chore in and of itself.
While I found Operation Abyss to be a moderately enjoyable dungeon crawler for fans of the genre, especially due to the wide variety of customization, I can’t quite say the same for Stranger of Sword City. The game starts off really difficult and unlike Operation Abyss, you’ll need to make every decision count from the beginning, which means if you’re dumb like me and put all of your spell caster’s stats towards physical attack instead of for their magic attacks, you’ll be pretty much screwed for a good amount of time. That being said, the game isn’t impossible, and just like Operation Abyss the reward comes from overcoming the game’s difficulty. It’s just a shame that the game somehow felt dull and a chore to play for me. I give Stranger of Sword City a 5 out of 10, and can only really recommend it if you mastered the developer’s other dungeon crawling games and don’t mind a moderate challenge right off the bat.