Stranger of Sword City is a turn based, grid-moving RPG. Your perspective is in first person. It reminds me of some of those early dungeon role-playing games on computers during the ‘80s. In fact it sort of plays that way too. This game requires a lot of patience as grinding for money and/or experience points can take up quite a bit of play time. This is more of an RPG for the RPG-seasoned player. Numbers and menus are a big part of this game and you will be staring at a lot of them. Items are expensive and useful item drops are infrequent. There is also permanent character deaths which can really set you back, especially in the beginning. If you like your RPGs uncompromising and to the point, look no further.
Your character starts out riding on a plane that for some reason crashes due to some turbulence and ends up in some undisclosed location. Presumably another dimension. Your character meets up with other “strangers” who’s goal are to somehow get back to their own dimensions. The story plays out about how you would expect it to, there is no engaging plot with twists and turns. It is your basic, “save the world from bad guys” story line. Characters are written well enough but honestly, no one was that memorable. I often found myself forgetting character’s names and their purpose in the story. There ARE some cool character designs though, which are kind of wasted given he fact that you only usually see a still portrait of them in the same pose, no one gets anymore fleshed out than when you are first introduced to them. I found that disappointing, as a story in a RPG should be engaging to justify the long journey that is a multi-hour experience.
The games world is rather interesting. It takes inspiration from all sorts of different types of archetypes. Some parts of the world look like a medieval kingdom, but down the next section over will have 747 jets laying around and women wearing Japanese school girl attire. It takes a mix off all things cool and just throws them into the world together because, why not? You also have a variety of characters to choose from that all look to be from different worlds and time periods, making it so anyone can find a character they would like to play as. In fact, my character was a modern day looking Otaku girl which made her look strange standing next to a medieval knight warrior, a super human school girl, and a 19th century steam punk scientist. I like the world and how it is presented in that way.
You can pretty much create any kind of character you want in the beginning, by choosing stats, age, name, class, race, skills, etc. Age will also determine what skills and resurrection points you receive as well as number of hearts. One thing odd about the age slider is that you can make your characters about as young as ten to upwards of age sixty and it doesn’t change your characters look at all. Your character can be a brunette, beautiful, “busty” woman but changing the age to ten doesn’t change a thing about her appearance and vice versa. Pretty much anything goes, take that as you will. Young characters can be resurrected after dying but characters with an older age disappear forever. Just like any good team on a role-playing game, its good to have a variety of characters with different classes, races, skills, etc. to balance out your team and be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Gameplay and Design
The game plays out with you roaming around dungeons in first person view, while encountering enemies and side missions to complete. Combat is nothing unique, it is standard turn-based combat with your six party members. You do have the ability to keep repeating your attack/defense choices from your last turn with a button press which really comes in handy, due to how long battles can end up taking. Hazards on the field outside of battle can also hinder your progress and make you rethink your route or item usage. Sometimes I would find myself pretty overwhelmed with hazards and enemy attacks that I had to back track out of the dungeon and back to base camp to heal up, buy more items, or recover fallen allies. At times, it was better to go back no matter how deep in a dungeon I was, in order to heal some friends as to not risk losing them forever.
Things can get a little frustrating and also quiet repetitive. Not too much was unique or memorable in dungeons and things began to feel rather “samey” after a while, causing me to close out the game and play something else before going back to it again for review. Quests at times were rather disappointing as the pay off for completing some were far less than what you would expect. I found myself fighting a rather tough enemy one time that kept receiving back up in the form of other smaller enemies just appearing in the middle of the fight. It was to the point to where it felt like the game glitched out. I was hammering away at this “main” enemy but had to keep attacking his little friends that kept showing up over and over again. I ended up using all my healing/MP recovery items, ran out of MP for every character, most of my party was knocked out, one even ended up permanently dead, and my reward after the fight was FINALLY over, was less than 100 gold and some crappy armor piece that was barely an improvement over what I had. I progressed the story a bit, but I just scoffed at my “reward” and didn’t touch the game again for a couple days just to overcome the disappointment.
Stranger of Sword City: Revisited has an interesting setting that is quiet clever with great artwork that makes it look quiet exciting. Party building has lots of depth to it and one can make nearly any type of fantasy RPG character they want. The game itself however can get rather repetitive and shallow. Not to mention frustrating. The death mechanics are too harsh at times given how unforgiving the game can get. In the beginning act, my main character died in nearly every battle making me have to back track to base and heal up over and over again. This made gaining EXP impossible until I filled my party out and let them do the fighting as I gathered the scraps of shared EXP. Items drops are really hit or miss, and end up not even being worth the trouble sometimes. The story had so much potential but it is just boring. Nothing to write home about. This is a game for those who like their RPGs hardcore. This is the RPG player’s RPG, if they don’t mind the stale story, which sort of narrows the audience even further.
Score: 5 out of 10
Stranger of Sword City: Revisited is the RPG fanatic’s RPG. Deep party building and relentless difficulty appeals to the hardcore audience. However, the dull story puts the great visuals to waste.