NIS America Inc.’s Stranger of Sword City for Sony Corp.’s PS Vita is a decent first-person dungeon crawler with traditional maze levels against efficient battles and in-depth options.
In Stranger of Sword City, the user’s flight crashes through a portal to Sword City, Escario and is introduced to The Stranger’s Guild, one of three factions in Escario. The user must defend the area and choose from several allegiances to find a way home.
At The Stranger’s Guild, the user can create a custom character and edit a six-character party, treat and revive dead characters, register characters and change classes, and buy and sell equipment.
The world map is a menu that displays various sections of Escario that open in linear fashion. Each dungeon is built with multiple levels, doors, and must-fight randomized enemies.
Party members can fight, defend, cast spells, use items, or attempt to escape. Each action can be set to repeat to speed up battles, but the standard execution is snappy. After battle, characters can level up and gain new skills to add to the arsenal.
Enemies can appear on several planes and require a bit of strategy, including character placement and choice of melee or spell attacks. At times, the enemy randomization can be brutal and eliminate a character in one hit to cause an unstable level of difficulty.
Certain enemies contain Blood Crystals that when obtained can be used to forge a deeper alliance with a particular faction. In addition, users will receive different skills depending on who the Blood Crystal is given to.
The graphics engine is solid with intricate hand-drawn artwork by Yoko Tsukamoto and Raita Kazama. Also, the soundtrack by Naoaki Jinbo is orchestral and haunting.
Stranger of Sword City is a decent handheld dungeon crawler. While the difficulty can be mixed, the solid battle mechanics and traditional mazes will lure the curious adventurer.