Dungeon crawler role-playing games (or short DRPG) from developer Experience can go one of two ways. One you love it or two you hate it though maybe going through mixed feelings with the ever so changing difficulty spikes of Stranger of Sword City or trying to find a good item for a boss.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy was pretty good but flawed and Stranger of Sword City is pretty much the same but it took most the pain of making items or leaving notes behind, making it more of a classic DRPG of the likes of Wizardry with the main goal on classes and exploration.
The story of Stranger of Sword City is that your ship or plane crashed and you get stranded in a town called Escario with a girl named Riu greeting you and you learn about the world around you, the factions and how you are the stranger who will help get Blood Crystals and get back home. Sounds easy on paper but how to get Blood Crystals is another story that will make you learn what grinding is all about.
In order to get Blood Crystals first you have to kill Lineage Creatures which can be found in a lot of ways. One way is getting a certain item and just walk around in hope of getting the creature needed. Another fun way is using what is known as Hiding, ambushing creatures in order to get whatever items it has and it is random. I found the cost going up a little too high in the beginning but once you start finding them and going with the story, it gets quicker to unlock more.
This is where the game’s difficulty can spike with seeing an early 2 star creature or even a rare and very deadly 5 star creatures. Tip one: always put stats in health and agility because you will need both more than luck. Hiding will become second nature because that is where weapons will be at because the shop has a decent starter set but once you get going, you will find better items even pretty early on.
A new thing in Stranger of Sword City is the way characters are introduced which is by age and it affects how many life points you can have which is three or even one. One is if they get killed they are done and go back to the register page because you want to create a full party as everyone earns EXP even without having to be in your party. Three or two life points can be ok because if missing, they can be treated at the tavern for a high cost or a good many battles. How quick they get healed is also handled by how hard the enemies are.
Money comes slow but your spare party members keeping killing monsters and every few good minutes you can collect the pay which is different than in Demon Gaze with you paying. Collecting a certain amount of hearts from the Lineage Monsters can earn you skills of buffs that cost morale by giving them to a certain faction and each one has different abilities to learn.
The artwork of Stranger of Sword City is really good and ranges from the games current artstyle to anime like in Demon Gaze. There are a good bit of choices and a few classes with all being better at something and being able to learn different skills.
Overall Stranger of Sword City is a challenging game and fun but flawed in some aspects. If it’s your first DRPG their upcoming title might be a better fit but DRPG fans will be sure to find something good in Stranger of Sword City.
The review was written and provided by Chris. All screenshots are taken from the PS Vita version.