Swords & Darkness (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 17.08.2015

Review for Swords & Darkness on Nintendo 3DS

The simple beat 'em up harkens back to the days of yore, when the SNES was king, gasoline was cheap, and Nü Metal wasn't yet a thing. While titans like Final Fight kept people decently entertained, Batman: Arkham Asylum hadn't yet been seen, so no one knew how awesome that type of game could be. The comparisons are appropriate, because the Metroidvania aspects of Swords & Darkness do try very hard to be like Batman: Arkham Asylum, but are missing key elements (like using items to systematically unlock new areas and being far more linear). Cubed3 checks to see if anything picks up the slack.

The best word to describe Swords & Darkness is: "bland." It's a generic beat 'em up with slow combat, respawning enemies, an inconsequential levelling system, and a touch of Metroidvania in the level design. The bizarre spelling errors are the least of its problems, and among the largest issue is that there doesn't seem to be any way to actually equip new weapons and armour.

Astute players may ponder the difference between "AGILLITY" and "DEXTARITY," but not to worry: scrolling text describes what these stats do, although the information is only available when a new level is gained. An abundance of stats feels great, but reading the help text reveals that the things they affect are almost irrelevant (such as DEXTARITY increasing item effectiveness). The easiest way to get a feel for how stat increases affect a game is to throw everything into Strength and see what happens, and there is no effect in Swords & Darkness - at all. Adding ten entire levels' worth of points into Strength yield a damage increase of zero, so damage is likely just a function of weapon strength, but, since there appears to be no way to actually equip any of the gained weapons, it is anyone's guess.

Screenshot for Swords & Darkness on Nintendo 3DS

Embarrassing typos and fake systems that try to give the illusion of depth aside, the gameplay is slow, tedious, and boring. The very first enemies of the game take a dozen or more hits to kill, which is done by mastering the complex art of standing there and pressing the attack button. Enemies love flanking, so it fast becomes important to actually move to deal those nine gazillion strikes it takes to kill anything. With practically every stat point going into Strength, the problem could simply be that the method of changing weapons is hidden, but it's hard to believe that menu actually exists.

Swords & Darkness features branching paths pretty often, and, although many of them go nowhere anyway, the desire to explore is totally destroyed by the bland combat and infinitely respawning enemies. Two types of attack, shielding, and various spells attempt to add some spices, but are woefully unsuccessful. Killing enemies simply takes too long, and this is true from the very beginning of the game: it's easy to suspect, after the very first enemy stands back up after being hit the fifteenth time, that it's a boss. It is not; it is simply a goon.

Overall, the wrapping is nice, if Swords & Darkness is thought about like a birthday present. However, inside the package is a pair of socks. It's hard to be excited about that. As such, the music, sound effects, and graphics are all competent, but anything more would be praising them undeservedly. Swords & Darkness is a nice effort, but it's simply not any fun.

Screenshot for Swords & Darkness on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


With many games, it's possible to see what the developer was going for, and to then determine whether they exceeded, met, or fell short. Swords & Darkness isn't like that. It's not clear whether Arc System Works was aiming for a 2D Batman: Arkham Asylum with swords and fell way short; if they were aiming for a straightforward beat 'em up and were distracted by the swords (since, evidently, any game with swords must contain a levelling system); or whether they pulled idea balls out of the manatee tank. The collage of random ideas didn't come together well, to be generous, and the effect is something that probably sounds cooler on paper than in practice.


Arc System Works


Arc System Works


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


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