The revisited version of Experience Inc’s two classic dungeon crawlers lands on Nintendo Switch, showcasing the best the genre has to offer.
There was a time when, even in the videogame field, role-playing games were closely linked to the imagination of those who decided to immerse themselves in these productions. The purely textual nature of the adventures – which closely resembled experiences similar to those lived in Dungeons & Dragons – it allowed us to create in our mind a story with an epic and legendary flavor, without this being “influenced” too much by the vision of the authors, whose task was simply to provide us with the means to give life to our story.
This is certainly not a nostalgic attack on the modernity of the genre, which in recent years has proved to be able to evolve in surprising ways, bringing to the attention of the world public a set of masterpieces that, without a doubt, will remain etched in videogame history. However, it is undeniable how the “magic” of the past, this ability to make us fly with the imagination, has been lost over the decades, leaving very little to the imagination of users. For this reason, we have received with great enthusiasm the news of the publication of Saviors of the Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited, a pair of dungeon crawler Japanese style (the first totally unpublished in the West) with few animations and based on a narrative and an artistic style designed to stimulate the imagination. So what do we think of the latest videogame effort by Experience Inc.? Did it meet our initial expectations?
A world in danger
Right from the start, it is clear that the choice to publish both games in one package makes full sense. On the other hand, the two productions share the same soul and, albeit with different tones, contain experiences characterized by a feeling very similar. Starting Saviors, we immediately realize how the narrative tension of the story is built through the clashes against the evil of the moment, eager to upset the balance of the world. Spending the first moments of the campaign in a situation of frenetic battle has two main functions: on the one hand to provide us with an overview of the game world and the threats we will have to fight, and on the other to offer us valuable information on gameplay mechanics ” effectively masking what is effectively a tutorial.
After the initial section, the time finally comes to embark on what will be our task during the adventure: without going into too much detail, the goal is to create a group of valiant heroes, in order to free the lands of hostile creatures and discover the truth about a terrible tragedy that occurred several years before the beginning of the tale. As mentioned above, both Saviors and Stranger are two dungeon crawler which will offer us a series of quest to play (along with a party that will be filled with different selectable characters) while exploring the mazes that we will find ourselves in front of. Getting rid of the enemies that stand between us and completing the tasks will allow us to gain experience points, useful for enhancing the entire party.
During each battle, marked by the classic division into turns, we are given the possibility to directly control each member of our group, and the choices we can make are to attack, defend, use a skill (magic or combat), or exploit an object. Don’t be fooled by the nature of the battle system because, even on normal difficulty, to defeat the monsters it will not be enough to press the attack button repeatedly.
L’AI is well developed, is reactive and chooses the target to hit, also some enemies can summon a series of minions really annoying, which force you to carefully evaluate every action on the field to get the better of your opponents. In general, the difficulty level surprised us with its balance, which provides an adequate challenge to every type of user (even in easy mode the artificial intelligence does not give discounts).
It is worth underlining that the skill system is also artfully studied: the effectiveness of magical abilities depends on a series of affinity which must be taken into account to calculate strengths and weaknesses, in order to adequately exploit the weaknesses of the enemies. There are obviously different types of offensive and defensive spells, and this allows the player to adopt various approaches during the fighting: to implement an effective strategy, it is necessary to take into account all the individual talents of the party members, which therefore we will have to carefully compose. .
By purchasing in the shop you will be able to obtain weapons and equipment, useful items for upgrading your arsenal, and some cosmetic elements that, in addition to changing the appearance of the protagonists, will also have their own utility in battle. Unlike Black Legend, another RPG released recently (here is our review of Black Legend), in this case the customization appears satisfying and complete, and presents a perfect balance between functionality and aesthetic pleasure.
The light and shadow of the universe
If the Saviors of the Sapphire Wings campaign leads us to visit colorful and fairytale settings (albeit threatened by imminent danger), certainly Stranger of Sword City Revisited shows very different atmospheres. Characterized by darker and gothic shades, the second IP created by Experience Inc., however, starts from premises very similar to those of Saviors. What is required of us, after finding ourselves in an unknown and dangerous world, is to shed light on who or what has dragged our virtual alter ego into a reality so different from the one in which it lived before. Thanks to the help of skilled and courageous companions, we will then be in charge of recovering the Blood Crystals and to defeat (or avoid) the Lineages, which are incredible creatures, really difficult to counter.
From the point of view of style, Stranger’s proposal is even more convincing: although it does not differ much in the type of experience offered (the mechanics are exactly the same as Saviors), the work set in City of Swords of Escario hosts a lore multifaceted and profound, with a bestiary full of enemies as ferocious as they are artistically sought after. Furthermore, the story involves the political and legal system of the land, and manifests an extremely pleasant maturity.
The customization, already of a more than good level in Saviors, in the second title is even more articulated, thanks to a truly meticulous work carried out to give users a varied gameplay suitable for every fighting style. A small flaw (present in both productions but more significant in Stranger) is represented by a not very detailed mini-map, which sometimes makes exploration difficult.
However, this is not a particularly disabling element overall, and indeed it can provide additional stimuli to players, called to test both memory and sense of direction, to avoid finding themselves several times in the same rooms. The ability not to take the wrong road will prove to be fundamental above all because, if unfortunately we go back to a point already visited, the enemies already defeated could respawn jeopardizing the success of our adventure.
The best part of both jobs is the creative expertise that the development team has shown in building the game world. In fact, in productions of this kind it rarely happens to find a so nice design of the characters and places that can be visited: the risk of seeing very generic settings was high, yet we have never had to deal with unoriginal or derivative material.
Even the countless creatures have a well-defined and captivating design, although often the “minions” are nothing more than a smaller version of the boss on duty. That said, the quality of the texture it is certainly not excellent, but it is enough not to be annoying to the eye, and it is especially appreciable in portable mode. A little more cleaning would have been appreciated – especially in the interior spaces – but we do not feel we should excessively penalize the overall performance, which is more than enjoyable anyway.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, is very refined: the soundtracks perfectly underline every moment spent wandering through hostile lands, rooms of palaces and castles, and add vigor to the playful experience. In general, the audio design it is convincing, net of some small stumbling blocks in equalization, which leads the music to overwhelm the environmental effects in too marked ways. Also in this case, it should be pointed out, it is not a particularly relevant defect for the purposes of usability.
A separate note we want to dedicate to dubbing in Japanese – unfortunately only present in Stranger of the Sword City Revisited – which shows a commitment and a pleasantness that have nothing to envy to triple A productions. The presence of fully dubbed sections helps even more theimmersion within the most intense moments of the opera, and we believe that the actor’s performances will be more than pleasing to lovers of Japanese-style animation, especially to all those who love to watch products in their original language.
Saviors of the Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City RevisitedNintendo Switch Analyzed VersionThe Saviors of Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited bundle does everything it needs to. And even more. While far from perfect, the package packaged by Entertainment Inc. offers a couple of dungeon crawler experiences like not seen in some time: the combat system is simple but functional, the story is engaging and exciting, and the setting well thought out and very inspired. Although the graphic rendering of both works certainly does not scream a miracle, the artistic style is absolutely fine, and the work done to bring such a publication to Switch is still commendable. Furthermore, the Japanese dubbing of Stranger of Sword City Revisited has nothing to envy to various triple A productions. a simply delightful soundtrack.