Strength of the Sword 3, is a third-person action title from Ivent Games, available exclusively for download on PlayStation 3’s PSN. Originally released in Europe back in June, this two man developed indie title has now made its way to the US.
Players take on the role of a blade-wielding magical war machine tasked by the heavens with defeating the Dark Mechanism and his evil minions such as goblins, demon hounds and more. That’s pretty much all there is to this story, you are treated to very few hand drawn cutscenes with no dialogue or text to explain anything. It is made clear by the developers that they were not concerned with telling a deep plot or offering any sort of character development. It is understandable, seeing this game was developed by only two men, it is still a tad bit disappointing.
Armed with a sword, shield and ranged weapons players will face off against a small variety of enemy types in arena style battles during each level. Ivent Games main focus was to create a game that really challenged the player, and boy did they deliver. Thanks to the game’s advanced “Group AI” mechanic that analyzes the player’s gameplay style, enemies will adapt accordingly; attack without any kind of strategy and they will block, dodge then punish you with relentless attacks. Play too defensively, enemies will surround you and become even more aggressive in their assault. It’s an impressive AI system that puts many featured in AAA games to shame.
Thankfully the game controls great. Mixing together light and heavy attacks is fast and fluid, while utilizing the dodge ability and your ranged attacks is pretty responsive. The action is fast paced and keeps you on your toes, as you find the best strategies to defeat the opposition. Know this, you will fail, again and again. Even when you think you have the enemy beat, they will adapt and you will end up dead. Thanks to there being no checkpoint system, when the player dies they’ll have to start the level over from the very beginning. This unforgiving trial and error experience will turn off those who are just looking for an easy experience. For those who are reminiscent of the old days, where games made your palms sweat and punished you for making the tiniest mistake, then this game is a good nod to that. It’s tough and unforgiving but one cannot deny the feeling of satisfaction you get once you’ve overcome the odds. It also helps that the game scores your performance at the end of each level based on three categories; defense, offense and speed. Players can earn up to three stars and their statistics are uploaded to the online leaderboards, allowing comparisons against other players around the world.
Sow3 features a pretty straight forward progression system; defeating enemies will level up the player and unlock new ranged weapons and abilities, such as throwing blades and healing. Continuing to level up will increase the efficiency of said weapons and abilities. There are also additional swords and shields to unlock, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. After defeating a Boss (there aren’t many sadly), you can choose to either unlock a new sword or shield. At the start of each level the player can equip whatever sword and shield combination they want. This allows for more variety as each weapon brings something different to the table; faster attack speed or more damage.
As fun as the game is to play, it is not perfect. The camera would occasionally get in the way and end up in awkward angles, obstructing view of the playable character. This resulted in some frustrating and unnecessary deaths. Moments like these is when the lack of checkpoints became an issue. Dying and having to start from the beginning due to your own error is one thing, but having to restart a Boss fight because the camera decided to stare at a wall is maddening.
Strength of the Sword 3 has a pretty good cartoony art style and the characters and environments look detailed enough. It is not the best looking game out there but considering how many it took to put this together, it is impressive by those standards. There is some very good music featured in this game. It is exciting and adds to the tension felt when engaging the enemy while the score that plays when you beat a level matches that feeling of accomplishment.
Replay Value: Good – Completing the story mode shouldn’t take long, it took me around 3 hours and I died about 57 times. Seeing as I’m not the most hardcore player, I would wager that many who fall under that category will finish the game even quicker. With that being said, you won’t unlock and/or max out everything in one playthrough.
You can go back and replay whichever levels you desire in an attempt to get everything, earn 3 stars on all levels which is not going to be easy and try to increase your place on the leaderboards. Challenge pit mode throws players in a pit and allows them to face off against wave after wave of enemies. Getting kills increases the timer, if you’re killed or the timer hits zero you fail and have to start over. There’s a bonus store that allows for the purchase of more ranged weapons ammo once you run low and the ability to heal to help stay alive.
Despite its annoying flaws and lack of plot, Strength of the Sword 3 is fun little indie game that delivers on the developer’s intentions to challenge the player. The game’s initial length is disappointing but there are reasons to keep playing. If you are looking for a new game to challenge you, to really kick your azz then you can’t go wrong, not for the asking price of $4.99 anyway.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
RGN Rating: Bronze Game
Developer: Ivent Games
Publisher: Ivent Games
Available on: Sony PlayStation 3 (PSN)
Review Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jermain Jackson on 20131213 and was last modified on 20131213 .