Released on consoles just a few months ago, PC gamers are now able to experience Experience Inc.’s latest localised dungeon crawler, Stranger of Sword City, for themselves. Stemmed from the same developer that brought Ray Gigant, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, and Demon Gaze, Stranger of Sword City sets itself apart from its dungeon-crawling brethren through its style rather than gameplay.
Steam describes the game:
Your flight crashes after passing through a mysterious portal. As the sole survivor, you awaken to an unfamiliar land lit by stars you’ve never seen. This land is Escario. Quickly marked as the Chosen One, the Stranger of Sword City, you must defend this place, and choose your allegiances carefully…
The game boasts nearly 80 appearances to choose from for a player’s character and party members. The selections are quite extensive with options to choose one’s name, race, class, talent, sex, and age. Though these options are quite common in RPGs, age, in fact, plays a huge role with the younger characters having a higher vitality. Conversely, even though older characters have less life points than youngsters, they are more experienced, thus have high base stats. If later a player wants to change various aspects of their characters later on, they can do so only on options that do not affect gameplay such as appearance or name.
As a Stranger and the Chosen One, players can choose to help out three factions in the land of Escario: the Strangers Guild, the Kingdom, and Medell Co. The leaders of each faction are Vessels that players can gift Blood Crystals to in order to receive new skills. The amount of crystals given can affect the relationship between players and that faction.
In terms of gameplay, the mechanics are nothing unique compared to other dungeon crawlers. In fact, the dungeons themselves are not very challenging with the hardest part just spending the time to walk around and record the map. The environment is quite bland with everything looking very flat. Nonetheless, these setbacks do not mean the game is simple. Stranger of Sword City is definitely quite challenging, and even in beginner’s mode, death is a common occurrence. Due to the difficulty level, players must strategize in developing various different parties to account for various different situations. That can include ambushing monsters for better equipment, changing classes, and creating new party members. Depending on the age of the character, if he or she dies a number of times, they can never be revived again, resulting in a permadeath.
The best aspect of Stranger of Sword City is probably not its dungeon-crawling gameplay, but rather the lore, visuals, and music. The story of the game is well-developed with the stunning visuals further emphasising that. Players have a choice between two different styles: one that is mature and gritty, and another more on the cute side. No matter which style, both are very fitting to the setting with the mature style definitely setting itself apart from Experience Inc.’s other games. In terms of music, it can only be described as nothing short of exquisite. With songs that fit perfectly with every occasion, players will never tire of hearing it during their times spent during grinding. With the three previously described features blending perfectly with one another, they create an atmosphere perfect for a dungeon crawler.
As for how well the PC port is, there are no problems whatsoever. The game in 1080p looks great and the keyboard and mouse controls are very easy to use and are remappable. Controller support is also available along with adjusting gamma levels to personalize display based on the players’ monitors.
Stranger of Sword City is definitely not the best dungeon crawler, but it still is one to recommend. Its style is quite unique compared to others of its genre and its high difficulty level can satisfy experienced players. Admittedly, grinding can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but it is a necessary evil that dungeon crawlers possess. The game can be overwhelming at first, but after getting used to the gameplay, everything will feel mostly natural. However, be sure to save often as one never knows when they might lose hours of progress due to a simple mistake.
This title was reviewed using a Steam review copy provided by NIS America.