• Editor’s Note: This review was updated on April 20, 2016 to reflect our views on the PS Vita version and on July 1, 2016 to reflect the PC version.

    Experience has been making strides to gain a foothold in the Western world. After having Demon Gaze and Operation Abyss published by NISA, the latest Western release of Stranger of Sword City finally hits Atam, this time from NISA, following the Vita release eaelier this year. Add to the fact that Acttil has published Ray Gigant a few months ago, and you can see that the small DRPG developer has plans to bring the genre to more players across the world. Thankfully these games are all fun, and they only seem to be getting better with each release.

    The game’s basic plot line involves your created character ending up in a plane crash, but surviving it, only to find themselves in a new world, with new powers that the normal inhabitants do not possess. Other people from your world are also here through a similar situation, and formed an Organization called the Strangers. The idea is that by hunting special monsters called Lineage Types for their Blood Crystals, they can eventually gain the power to return to the world they came from. There are some story bits here and there which often form the basis of the game’s quests, but that about all their really is to the game for the most part. Itfs a dungeon crawler through and though, where the crux of a players enjoyment lies in the gameplay.

    As far as the gameplay is concerned, it more or less uses the same traditional turn-based battle systems that were seen in Demon Gaze and Operation Abyss. There usually is some twist to the battle system in each game though, and Stranger in Sword City is no different. This time, the Blood Crystals you collect can be traded in to a person of your choice, which will grant you specific Divinity Skills based on the chosen character. These skills are used at the start of a turn, and can do various things like reduce damage or immediately flee the battle. These skills use Morale Points though, which restore over time, or any attacks inflicted or received. There’s also a few other tweaks made to the game as well. Now you can choose to repeat the last set of actions you took for the next turn, and you can even do a speed up mode that doesn’t rely on holding down the accept button. Although, you can still hold down the button if you want.

    In an interesting twist, the currency of the game are Blood Gems. This is not a weird reference to Bloodborne though, as the original game released back on the 360 and Windows in Japan in 2012. And Blood gems are rather hard to accumulate. Items in shops are expensive, and your primary mode of earning money or equip will come from selling whatever you gain from ambushes. There are areas in the map called hiding zones, where you can spend Morale to hide in an attempt to ambush enemy envoys carrying random loot. You can pass up the loot five time before you exhaust your chances, but each time you do so, the enemies get more dangerous. Then once you decide to fight, the goal will be to identify the leaders and take them out before they run away with the treasure. It’s a great risk versus reward system that’s a much better alternative than Demon Gaze’s item gem system or Operation Abyssfs confusing synth system.

    There’s a fair bit of challenge to the game outside of accruing and managing funds though. Enemies can chew you up easily, especially in the beginning if you are unprepared. Thankfully there is a lower difficulty setting, but even then, it’s still a bit tough. The game also has a permanent death system. Characters have Life points that protect them from perma-death, but restoring lost life points is either prohibitively expensive, or time consuming. If you need to revive a character, it will also cost time or money, and restoring life points only adds to that. So death and recovery has a large sting to it. The only solace lies in the fact that returning to HQ restores all Health and MP. A good tactic to deal with character downtime would be to make extra characters to cycle out the ones on the mend. The best part is that you donft have to worry about them being left behind, as they will still earn experience while away. They’ll even sometimes earn your team money, so that’s nice.

    The game is a real great dungeon crawling experience for those looking a for a bit of a challenge, and it lacks the overly complex systems of Operation Abyss. While the game is light on story and humor, the thrill of the dungeon crawl is the crux of the game. Visuals can be viewed in Classic Mode, or a new anime art style, which actually looks not all that great compared to what came before. Even the classic style looks a bit rough, but it is markedly better. Music feels typical of Experiences other titles, but it is still decent. One thing that was a bit of a let down is the lack of an English dub. But considering that Operation Abyss was English dubbed only, it is a nice contrast. And it’s not like the game really needs it anyway, given that it’s partially voice acted and not heavily story driven to begin with.

    As for the quality of the Vita version, the game’s script seems to be very much the same, although the initial boot up time is much longer. The design of the text boxes is also different so that it’s easier to see the text on the smaller screen. Speaking of the image quality, the artwork looks a lot better on the device as it’s not horribly blown up, so the art doesn’t look as rough. The button functions have changed a bit as the vita lacks the extra shoulder buttons of the Xbox One. But otherwise it’s exactly the same game. The PC release has a new Picture Gate mode that lets you take a picture of your face, then it lets you use it as your avatar’s profile. Other than that, the only difference from the Xbox One version is that the resolution is definitely improved. The art doesn’t look so rough on a nice monitor. Unfortunately there is no way to cross save between the Microsoft platforms for this game. But regardless of which version you pick, Stranger of Sword City is a good place to look for a fun if not challenging and methodical DRPG.

    Stranger of Sword City - Review
    A great dungeon crawler from Experience that has a decent challenge level in between the other titles from the developer. There also various tweaks made to the engine that open up a lot of customization options.
    Our Score8.5
    Positives
    • The gameplay is improved some ways from Demon Gaze and Operation Abyss, having about the challenge level of the latter, but with the level of simplicity of the former.
    Negatives
    • The inclusion of perma-death and it's expensive way of getting around it makes the game more troublesome without preparing adequately.
    • The game lacks the humor seen in the previous titles.
    8.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
    0.0

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