Stranger of Sword City (Review) PSVita

Stranger of Sword City (Review) PSVita
Review Score:

Stranger of Sword City is a first-person, turn-based dungeon crawler that resembles many classic RPGs, including Sir-Tech’s Wizardry series. The story beings with the protagonist surviving an airliner disaster – where the plane and its occupants vanish and then crash — after entering a mysterious portal. Now trapped in an unknown world, the protagonist must learn to survive and use special powers that only ‘strangers’ possess when they arrive in this new landscape.

Before the adventure can begin, The player must create a character using the ‘Character Creation’ process. This process contains a variety of details, allowing the player to select their character’s gender, physical appearance and combat stats. In fact, the creation process provides a number of details not present in most role-playing games. For example: the player can choose from 79 different character portraits, which coincide with the game’s ‘Race’ selection.

The player can choose to be either Human, Elf, Dwarf, Miamy or Ney. However, certain portraits can only be used with specific races. As for available ‘classes’, SoSC includes 3 melee classes (Fighter, Knight and Samurai), 3 spell casters (Cleric, Wizard, and Dancer), and 2 range-based, damage dealers (Ninja and Ranger).

Stranger of Sword City

It’s even possible to increase the age of said character, but there are some restrictions. For example: choosing to make a character in their late 50s (or older) can result in weaker, slower attacks, while a younger age is more agile and stronger. The age of the character can also affect the available Bonus Points, which are used to increase stats such as STR, INT, and VIT to mention just a few. There is an option to ‘re-roll’ these points if the default bonus is too low, but the result may be less than satisfactory if the chosen age is too old. This is something to consider when making a character.

Like most games in the genre, Stranger of Sword City is a straight-forward dungeon crawler that focuses on story-based missions and XP grinding. When the player isn’t killing monsters or running missions, they are visiting ‘Stranger Fortress’ — a safe haven for ‘strangers’ that materialize from other dimensions. Stranger Fortress is divided into three major areas: Base, Shop and Leader’s Room. The player can navigate to these different locations via a simple menu. This menu also contains a ‘System’ function to save/load a current game and the option to ‘Leave’ the fortress.

Mrs. Gurrba is the caretaker of Stranger Fortress and also the NPC that occupies the ‘Base’. The ‘Base’ is where Strangers sleep, replenish life points (i.e. Health) and revive fallen comrades via Free Mode. When using ‘Free Mode’ to revive a party member, the character in question becomes hospitalized. The recovery time for said party member depends on the character’s age and Life Points. The younger the character’s age, the shorter the recovery time. Visiting a high-level labyrinth or winning a battle is the best way to pass in-game time, thus shortening the recovery time of the party member. When the player loses a member to hospitalization, their party becomes weaker. It’s important to find a ‘substitute’ character to strengthen the party until all injured characters are healed and released.

Stranger of Sword City

The gameplay is fairly straight-forward, as the player traverses a variety of dungeons and labyrinths teaming with traps and monsters. Travel through these dungeons is done by either the PSVita’s Analog Stick or Directional pad, while the Left and Right shoulder buttons are used for strafing corners. An interesting feature to traveling through the game’s dungeons (and one that is not seen often in role-playing games) is the ability to ‘Hide’. While ‘Hiding’, the player can encounter what are called ‘transporters’ (i.e. enemies) and ambush them, but not before the ‘hiding point’ of the dungeon/labyrinth is found. Moreover, hiding points require morale points, which increase over time. When a group of enemies are ambushed, the enemy leader must be defeated or any treasure from the battle will be lost. Enemies that are attacked from a ‘hiding point’ will increase in strength until the player’s party leaves the dungeon.

Combat relies on a turn-based system that works like most dungeon crawlers. The enemies appear as illustrations over a static background, and all available party members appear at the bottom of the screen. A basic combat menu is used to Fight, Defend or cast Spells on the attacking enemies. Depending on the creature and its size, the player can target different limbs. For example: the Hydra that attacks at the beginning of the game has multiple heads; these can be targeted individually to weaken the monster. This feature only seems to work on large monsters, and not on the lesser creature mobs that inhabit the dungeons.

Blood Stones and Lineage Types play an important role during combat. For example: Lineage Types are monsters that drop ‘Blood Crystals’ when defeated (they can also resurrect every time they are killed). These Blood Crystals are then used to purchase skills in the Divinity Skill tree, which works with every character despite their class and race. The Divinity Tree is central to the game’s plot, and it provides new spells such as Healing, Dragon Fist, and X Charge, to name just a few.

Stranger of Sword City

It’s important to note that there is a possible (and glaring) mistranslation from the Japanese game, which states that Divinity Skills can be ‘stacked’; this is actually not the case. It’s difficult to determine whether the ‘stacking’ mentioned early on actually refers to ‘not stacking’ specific skills such as healing or something else entirely; it’s never really specified.

With that said, Stranger of Sword City is a solid entry in the dungeon crawler RPG genre. While it may not seem like much at first, the combat system — along with the Divinity Skill tree and ‘Hiding’ system — add a unique twist to an age-old gameplay concept that was pioneered decades ago. In fact, gamers that enjoy the dungeon crawler genre will appreciate what Stranger of Sword City has to offer, quirks and all.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: PSVita
Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $39.99

Stranger of Sword City Official Website:
http://www.nisamerica.com/games/stranger-of-sword-city

Review Score
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Beautiful 3D environments and impressive 2D Manga-style illustrations.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
An impressive soundtrack compliments the engaging story.
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Classic dungeon crawler mechanics that compliment an otherwise good, but sluggish combat system.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Stranger of Sword City is a solid entry in the dungeon crawler RPG genre.
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