Stranger of Sword City Revisited (PS Vita) Review

By Gabriel Jones 10.03.2017

Review for Stranger of Sword City Revisited on PS Vita

Escario, the Sword City, is the lone civilization in a parallel world. Its inhabitants consist mostly of "Strangers". They're not of this realm, but they've been drawn there by an unknown force. Perhaps they are destined to maintain the balance of power, or subvert it to achieve their own ends. One such individual, known only as The Chosen One, holds Escario's fate in the palm of their hand. Will they lead the land to an everlasting peace? Or reduce it to dust all for a chance to return to their world? While it's possible that these questions were answered last year, it might be worthwhile to revisit them.

With its stylish art direction and polished game design, the original Stranger of Sword City (PS Vita review here; PC review here) made quite an impact among the DRPG community. However, not all of its ideas were well-received. Some aspects, such as the "mumic system", were a little too bothersome. With the Revisited edition, Experience has made an attempt at easing some of the burdens placed upon player. Make no mistake, while the changes can result in an easier game, it's still not one to be underestimated, and pursuing the greatest challenges has become all the more rewarding.

The Chosen One's mission remains the same. They must explore labyrinths in search of Lineage Types. Upon defeating these boss monsters, the champion is awarded blood crystals. The incredibly powerful artefacts are then given to Vessels, who will bestow unique divinities as a reward for the Chosen One's service. This process furthers the plot and results in new labyrinths becoming accessible. There are multiple endings and they all depend on the distribution of blood crystals, as well as the critical decision that decides Escario's fate.

Screenshot for Stranger of Sword City Revisited on PS Vita

This game is known for its approach to perma-death. With the DRPG genre, death is never the end, except when it is. The character's age determines the number of life points. Whenever they die, they lose one life point. If all of them are exhausted, then the character simply vanishes, never to return. For this edition, the mechanics for revival and restoration have been slightly edited. It takes less time to recover in the Stranger's Guild, so nobody is ever out of the active party for very long. Still, it's worth having several characters to rotate into the active group. Created characters also receive an experience bonus relative to the Chosen One's level, which is nice.

Surviving a DRPG is all about having the right party set-up. In this edition, three new character classes are available. The Clocker functions similarly to a Time Mage in how they manipulate the flow of battle. In one instance, this can mean performing multiple skills in a single round. When the situation becomes critical, the Clocker can ensure that an adversary makes the last move in a round. This is just enough time for a healing item or spell to rescue somebody at low health. Puppeteers also serve as manipulators, though they target the enemy directly. Through the power of dolls and an inkling of luck, monsters can lose their sight, strength, and common sense. More to the point, they can be ordered to kill each other. Freemen aka layabouts are never active fighters, although they can provide substantial benefits such as shop discounts.

Screenshot for Stranger of Sword City Revisited on PS Vita

Substantial changes were also made in regards to the shop and equipment. The shopkeeper Gillius can now upgrade all weapons and armour, provided he's paid well for the service. Furthermore, there aren't any limits in how much rare equipment the party can discover. This is a pretty massive change, considering that the previous edition required players to seek out the being known as Mumic, who had a chance to upgrade rarities. Thus the process of acquiring stronger gear has been substantially streamlined and improved. There is still great joy to be had in finding powerful weapons, but if need be, there's a lot of value in making regular monetary investments in the party's arsenal.

Exploring the various labyrinths surrounding Escario has become a more involved task. It's still a necessity to hunt down the Lineage Types, but there are now more treasures and side-quests to look for. Just to give an idea, stat boosting items are all the rage. They're everywhere, but only explorers with a keen eye and a taste for adventure will find them all. The side-quests typically involve friendly monsters, well… as friendly as not immediately trying to kill everyone they happen to bump into. It's worth assisting them, as they will lead the party to the aforementioned stat boosters and other valuable rewards. These activities add a nice layer of world building and character to the denizens of this strange realm. Some labyrinths have also undergone changes. For example, it was once impossible to use skills in the Mausoleum of Ice, now they only cost a substantial amount of health per use.


 
The battle system is mostly unchanged. It's still an entirely turn-based affair with the player and enemy parties divided into multiple rows. Naturally, the back rows can't attack unless they use spells, ranged weapons, or special skills. This edition introduces a new ability called Guard Counter. It's available to every party member and makes the "defend" command far more useful. When an enemy attacks somebody taking a defensive stance, there's a possibility that they'll immediately counter with a devastating attack. Not only does it do quite a bit of damage, it can also stun the monster for a couple rounds. With this addition, a number of new strategies are available, such as the front row being essentially an impenetrable wall of shields. Keep in mind, however, that some enemies are capable of a similar tactic, and will punish anyone who repeatedly uses the same skills.

Along with the always unfortunate requiem spell, which instantly wipes out unlucky party members, a few adversaries can also curse equipment. A hammer large enough to crush a giant will is suddenly unable to swat a fly. Cursed armour is almost as effective as wet paper in deflecting blows. Needless to say, once a party member is cursed, their demise is all but guaranteed. Butterfly powder can undo this severe debilitation, so be sure to stock up. In the long term, consider a party make-up that includes a wizard and a puppeteer, since they don't rely on equipment to do damage. On the bright side, the easier difficulty settings supply adventurers with light orbs. If the entire party is destroyed, a light orb can be spent to retry the battle.

Screenshot for Stranger of Sword City Revisited on PS Vita

An interesting addition has been made to the Lineage Type fights. For a special reward, the player can actually limit their experience level when challenging these exceptional foes. There are multiple ways to circumvent this limitation, such as through very strong equipment or clever usage of the class change system. Changing a party member's class drops their level by half, but they retain their hit-points and other stats. In most cases, the game wisely steps back, allowing the player to take everything into consideration. The difficulty is overall much more fluid, and can be made as welcoming or unforgiving as the player desires.

For everyone that manages to conquer the main story, there are still more tasks to take on. As with the previous edition, the Black Palace awaits those brave enough to fight a legion of unfathomably strong monsters. They'll also have the opportunity to pursue the other endings by way of three new labyrinths. These locations offer even more fiends to do battle with, as well as dealing with limited divinity access. This means that popular divinities such as the HP-restoring "Holy Light" are unavailable in two out of the three dungeons.

While the revised edition isn't an entirely new game, all of these changes and additions make for one that is still quite different. Thankfully, they're all beneficial to the player. Many of the quality-of-life improvements affect the process of acquiring equipment, making it faster and easier to build a strong party. At the same time, nothing is forced upon the player. If they choose to ignore what's being offered, then that's their decision. Stranger of Sword City Revisited doesn't just offer well over 50+ hours of content, it also allows for innumerable possibilities. Adventurers can make use of everything available, or they can make their efforts all the more strenuous. In any case, their hard work is always rewarded.

Screenshot for Stranger of Sword City Revisited on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Over the past several years, DRPG developer Experience has become one of the leaders of the genre. With titles like Stranger of Sword City Revisited it's easy to see why. The original game was already quite good, so Experience took all of the feedback to heart to craft a thoroughly enhanced version. The changes make the adventure more accessible, yet at the same time they don't push away fans of the original; in fact, there are now more options to consider and new challenges to overcome. All in all, while Escario is a pretty lousy vacation destination for working on that tan, it's still a thoroughly fantastic city to spend a lot of time in.

Developer

Experience

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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