In Indie Game HQ’s latest review, Brandon takes a look at the action fighting game Strength of the Sword 3 by Ivent Games. Strength of the Sword 3 has been under development for 5 years by the two man team behind Ivent Games. The game features 11 levels each with unique enemies that require a certain strategy to defeat. Strength of the Sword 3 is currently available through PlayStation Network Europe with a North American release planned for the near future. All the needed links are listed at the end of this review.
GAME NAME: Strength of the Sword 3
DEVELOPER(S): Ivent Games
PUBLISHER(S): Ivent Games
RELEASE DATE(S): TBD
We would like to thank Ivent Games for giving us the opportunity to review Strength of the Sword 3!
Each and every foe you meet is there, not to slow you down, but to kill you! The game’s AI will analyze and exploit your weaknesses!!! It will punish you for your arrogance and ignorance, and generally smack you around without mercy… Different types of enemies will work together in different ways in order to oppose your playstyle, exploit your weaknesses, and counter your tactics.
It’s YOU vs THE GAME! No holds barred! No quarter given! And in this game, as in real life, one thing is certain – YOU. WILL. FALL….AGAIN and AGAIN! But the measure of a person’s Strength is not how many times he falls, but how many times he can Get Back Up!
Strength of the Sword 3 is actually the first and only game of the Strength of the Sword “series” despite what the name suggests. This hack and slash has you control a golem who wields a sword and shield. The game has a good deal of strategy involved as you have to predict enemy attacks as they predict yours. Ivent Studios has also announced that they incorporated a “Group AI System” that means the enemies adapt to your game playing style. If you’re the type of person who goes in swords a-swinging with no blocking or dodging then don’t expect to live long. However, if you’re the person to wait and only swing when a opening shows itself then the enemies will alter their fighting style to counter.
- 11 different campaign levels
- 5 different usable swords
- 5 different usable shields
- a challenge pit mode
- 11 unlock-able trophies
Right off the bat, the tutorial goes over the most important basic controls in the game so pay attention. You’ll learn that holding R2 while moving the left analog stick will cause your character to dive in either direction. This skill is integral for your survival. You can also use your dodge ability to charge forward and charge your foe. After this, they will teach you that circle blocks, X is jump, square is slash, and triangle is stab. There you have it, basic combat has been mastered. Tapping the circle bottom will make you parry as well, but if you also hold the circle button and up on the analog stick you will begin to charge your energy up. Locking on to targets is automatic, but you can switch to different targets by hitting either the L1 or R1 buttons. The L2 button is used for attacking with your secondary weapon, and the right stick is for switching between your secondary weapons. The various combo moves are learned as you go, and each weapon has different moves that players can pick up on through trial and error.
The enemies are pretty unique, and you never feel that they reuse the same enemies too much. Each enemy has their own signature moves and fighting styles which adds to the diversity of the game, but there isn’t a single enemy that is a pushover. This means you will have to learn at least a few of the moves and finishers in order to win. Finishers are exactly as they sound. When an enemy’s health reaches a certain level you can finish them with a single attack. Many of the moves will require you to use energy which must be periodically recharged.
With the game only having 11 levels, it may seem short as each level takes roughly 10 minutes, but even the most skilled players will find themselves replaying the same levels over and over again. The game can be rather difficult, and it requires you to evaluate the situation, learn from your mistakes, and conquer. Never does it feel the game is giving you a victory. You feel a sense of accomplishment after each level.
The game allows you to choose the cominations of swords and shields before each level. At the beginning of the game you only have one sword and one shield, but they are quickly unlocked as you progress through the campaign defeating bosses. After each boss you can choose either a sword or shield, so to unlock everything you must defeat the campaign twice. I suggest trying out every combination as each suits a different playing style. The starter set is very well rounded and doesn’t really excel at anything. Some weapons do little damage but feature great speed while others may be slower but can land for critical damage. Just about everything in between can be unlocked as well.
Strength of the Sword 3 features a fair amount of secondary weapons and abilities as well. Players can use throwing knices, grenades, fire breath, health packs, energy packs, and even rocket launchers. These abilities won’t be used as much as your primary sword and shield, but they can help sway the battles in your favor if used properly.
The Challenge Pit mode was a nice touch that added extra replay value. Like most games nowadays, challenge modes are a key part to the success of the game long-term. Strength of the Sword 3 features a variety of challenges and adds an extra competitive element by showing your world rank and allowing you to compete against everyone. The gameplay in the challenge mode is the same as campaign, but it features unlimited enemies similar to Horde Mode in Gears of War.
The game has 11 trophies to unlock during game-play. They’re all pretty basic and most will be unlocked just by simply beating the game. One will be unlocked when you reach a certain score in challenge mode, three will be awarded for beating the campaign with specific feats reached, and the rest are unlocked for defeating various enemies or using certain moves.
The audio of Strength of the Sword 3 was really nothing to write home about, but it still was pretty good and suited the game well. There is very little diversity between levels and cut-scenes which hurts the overall soundtrack quality in my opinion. Fighting sequences have that background music you would find in a stereotypical medieval movie that emphasizes the importance of the battle. Instead of using generate, repetitive noises, the developers added a unique sound effect for the various sword swings and shield blocks. There is a large variety of sound effects which are very well done. With that said though, I was still disappointed with the lack of variance in the soundtrack.
The graphics and art style of Strength of the Sword 3 really suit the game. You’ll certainly notice the quality of the cut scenes as they have very smooth animations and tend to be brief and to the point. They aimed for shorter cut scenes where the player could easily understand the story instead of having 45 minute cut scenes where you lose interest half way through.
As far as in-game graphics are concerned, Strength of the Sword 3 does not disappoint. The background villages and the battle terrain of the foreground have a very appealing art style that helps the gameplay flow properly. Even though some aspects are greatly exaggerated, the arty style is still gorgeous. You character has the appearance of a half suit of knights armor with an aura within that is the core of the golem. The enemies are also quite original as you will be fighting warthogs covered in blades, goblin scouts with swords, a silver-back general, and many other unique enemies. If you are thinking that some of these enemies sound unoriginal or cliche, then you need to check this game out for yourself because the character designs are very detailed and easily recognizable.
Down to the Nitty Gritty:
Strength of the Sword 3 is one of the hardest hack and slash games I have ever played, and this list includes Castlevania: Lords of Shadows, Dante’s Inferno, and pretty much every God of War game. It’s a pretty short game overall and can be beaten in one sitting if you’d like. With that said, the game still provides a feeling of accomplishmgent upon completion. Each fight plays out differently each and every time you attempt it. The level select features makes it easy to continually replay your favorite levels over and over.
The backstory compiled with the battle sequences create a strong sense of importance. This feeling makes it seems like your battle is actually important and without it, the dark forces would take over. Many games lose this aspect, and you can find yourself questioning what you are doing and why. Everything just felt right with the battle sequences. The attacking, blocking, and detecting animations just felt very smooth, and there were not any noticeable glitches at any point in the game. If the campaign isn’t enough for you, the multiplayer adds endless hours of gameplay where you can level up and better your rank globally. The game is very well done, and I can easily say it is worth the €10 price and whatever it will be when it releases in North America.
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