While it has a number of admirable features, this bland RPG isn't particularly memorable and ultimately succumbs to its shortcomings. First, the good news -- the game's heavy focus on variety, including the ability to choose and customize your allied fighters, is fun and gratifying and adds to the overall replayability. You can select multiple helpers, each with different skill sets, and even change up the look of the party, if desired. It has terrific artwork that's detailed and atmospheric; while it lacks smooth animation, the game's look is fantastic and gives this RPG a lot of character. Speaking of the game's look, it's rare to find a first-person, turn-based dungeon crawler, which is a fresh take on the typical third-person perspective.
Now for the frustrating parts of the game. It starts with "permadeath," where each character has a certain number of lives (determined by the character’s age), so when a character's life is lost, you need to take them back to base camp to heal. This mending of wounds can take many hours (real-life hours, that is), unless you've got a rare item that can resurrect them right away. Sure, this adds a challenge, but it mostly makes you want to turn the game off and play something else. On a related note, the game's difficulty is inconsistent: In some battles you easily win the fight with fewer resources quickly, while at other times you're overqualified for the brawl, yet you limp away an hour or so later. As in most video games, Stranger of Sword City has its strengths and weaknesses, but in the end, it emerges as an average C-grade adventure that could've fared a lot better with more time and testing.