Stranger of Sword City

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Stranger of Sword City Game Poster Image
Violent, mature role-playing with erratic fight sequences.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Defending a strange land from demonic creatures overshadowed by killing for most of game.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You don't know much about who you are, but your flight crashes after passing through a mysterious portal. You awake in Escario, City of Swords, marked as the Chosen One who must defend this place from beasts.

Ease of Play

Simple to control, but camera issues, graphical bugs hinder experience.

Violence

Game centered on violence in turn-based battles against creatures using might, magic to destroy enemy before they destroy you. Some blood, gore, including nonplayable scenes with people decapitated, impaled, lying in a pool of blood.

Sex

Some female creatures shown with no shirts, revealing bare breasts but no nipples; other characters shown wearing low-cut outfits that expose large amounts of cleavage.

Language

Some profanity in dialogue, including "bitch," "ass," "damn," "hell," "bastard."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In-game item called "poiney powder" described as a narcotic substance with addictive qualities.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stranger of Sword City is a Japanese turn-based role-playing game (RPG) that contains violence, blood, and gore; players will use weapons and magic to attack creatures. There are also cut scene sequences with impalement and beheading, and the game contains imagery of women with partial nudity or very little clothing and ample cleavage. It also features moderate profanity and references to addictive drugs.

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What's it about?

In STRANGER OF SWORD CITY, your flight leaves Japan and passes through a mysterious portal and crashes. As the sole survivor, you awaken to an unfamiliar wasteland taken over by demonic creatures bent on destruction. You're in Escario, dubbed the City of Swords, and you've been heralded as the Chosen One who can defend the lands, choose your allegiances, destroy the inhuman threats, and, if you can, find a way back home. This title has turn-based and first-person action, and while it's a single-player game you can compete with fellow players through an online leaderboard system for best time, best gear, and more.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mature content. Could the developers have pulled off virtually the same game without the content that's inappropriate for younger kids? Did the game "need" blood and gore, partial nudity, swear words, and drugs?

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