Game Review: Stranger of Sword City (PS Vita)

If “Stranger of Sword City” was a market, the currency would be death.

Hi, and welcome to another review of a game in which I died. A lot. A bit like Paranautical Activity but in a first person RPG instead of a randomly-generated FPS. Doesn’t make sense? Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.

“Stranger of Sword City” has a JRPG story, much like most: you’re a stranger, memory loss, unknown powers, etc. As with most JRPGs of late, the story itself isn’t the protagonist, but rather the character development. And I have to be honest, I quite liked what this little gem had to offer in that regard: plenty of variety, plenty of quirk.

You start by creating your character, and being frank, this is one of the best character creation screens I’ve seen in a while. It’s absolutely gorgeous, plentiful and full of variety. And not only that: the changes you make to your character (including the age) have dramatic effects on how your character plays.

Looking good there. But do you really want to be 99 years old? Because you can!
Looking good there. But do you really want to be 28 years old? Because you can!

After that, you’re dropped into a world of… well, first-person dungeon crawling RPG goodness. There are two things that separate “Stranger of Sword City” from other such games, though.

First off, the combat system has been really well thought out. The fact that everything you do alters your character’s stats really comes into play, and the Blood Crystals / Divinity system for defeating Lineage Type monsters makes a huge difference, even early on in the game (when you’ve no idea what’s going on).

The second thing that sets this game apart is the art: while a lot of it is static, it looks absolutely gorgeous. The dungeons themselves are nothing to write home about, but the combat screens are filled with beautiful art dripping with personality. It really is one of the best looking dungeon-crawlers I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Will you look at that? Will you? You should.
Will you look at that? Will you? You should.

Another thing to mention is that, even in the easiest setting, you’ll be facing quite the challenge. This is not a casual game by any means, and you better be on your toes and ready to say goodbye to a lot of your party members, because “Stranger of Sword City” is no stranger to killing you. Over and over again. A lot of the time, permanently.

So, awesome graphics, solid combat system and a 1980’s approach to difficulty. Is that enough to set the game apart in the Vita universe, a place crowded with JRPGs?

That’ll depend on your personal preference. I think considering how long the game is, they could have made the story a bit more unique. The characters certainly are, so it can be done. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time battling (and let’s face it, you will) and grinding up (again, par for the course), it’s really hard to fault what Experience and NISA have brought to the table.

  • Title: Stranger of Sword City
  • Publisher: NIS America
  • Developer: Experience Inc.
  • Format: Physical/PSN Download
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 541mb

Vita Player Rating - 07

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