Author Topic: Swords and Darkness (3DS) Review  (Read 1157 times)

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Offline Bizcuthammer

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Swords and Darkness (3DS) Review
« on: July 19, 2015, 06:34:00 AM »

Born from the Darkest of Depths...

Arc System Works’ side scrolling brawler, Swords and Darkness, casts the player as a young knight who has just returned to his home land, only to find it ravaged by an evil curse.  After finding a group of survivors in a church building, the soldier (who you get to name) is tasked with restoring the nation back to its former state, while uncovering the mystery of how hell broke loose.  The story is pretty basic and bland, and as with many games in its genre, simply serves as a device to get the player from point A to point B.  Unfortunately, the story is not the only thing about Swords and Darkness that is disappointing.

As you make your way through the game, which lasts approximately 6 hours, your primary objective becomes defeating the enemies that confront you.  Each screen throws several soldiers at you, and even in the beginning they will attack you ruthlessly.  Their strategy is often to flank you on both sides, and the awkward control scheme makes turning around to fight them all at once nearly impossible.  Defeating a soldier results in another one spawning in its place, until you have defeated a certain number on the screen, after which a small break is rewarded to you before the next onslaught should you choose not to continue to the next screen.  The relentless onslaught is made much more monotonous by the battle system, which rarely sees you do anything but mash the Y button for a sword strike.  There are other techniques you can learn throughout the game, either by purchasing them or finding them, but because they take time to initiate, you are unlikely to ever use them, as doing so means taking shots from foes.  Regardless of whether you are fighting soldiers or bosses, your mash-Y strategy is likely to remain unchanged.

Speaking of enemies, Swords and Darkness features one soldier sprite throughout the entire game that serves as your foe on each screen.  You’ll fight around 10-12 of them on each screen, and then move to the next one and repeat the process.  Outside of the bosses, there is no enemy variety outside of swapping color palettes of the soldiers.  Successful beat-em-ups, like Golden Axe, often present enemies of different types that challenge players to react with new strategies, but Swords and Darkness is more than satisfied with boring you to death with endless waves of cursed knights.  Needless to say, it comes across as lazy on the part of the developers, and is frustrating for the player.  After what seemed like the 300th cursed knight slain in the first hour of the game, I was hoping the game would eventually provide me with a different challenge, but it seems that was too much to ask.

Defeating enemies results in your knight gaining experience points, which, once the amount required is collected, will grant your character a level up.  Levels ups come with the benefit of Skill Points, of which you receive five per level.  These can be spent on any of the seven attributes for your soldier: Strength, Agility, Stamina, etc.  While basic, these RPG-lite elements give you a little bit of customization to your avatar, who otherwise lacks personality.

The most frustrating part of Swords and Darkness, though, is that upon death, you are teleported all the way back to the church at the start of the game, with half of the money (which you can spend on healing items and equipment) you’ve earned defeating enemies gone.  Going back to the church can be infuriating depending on how much progress you’ve made, and because it means you’ll have to fight or run through the endless horde of rehashed soldiers yet again.

Swords and Darkness is a functional game, and that’s the best thing that I can say about it.  I can’t recommend it to anyone but the most hardcore of hardcore beat-em-up lovers.  If you’re really itching for a quality beat-em-up experience, I’d suggest giving another title like Golden Axe or Streets of Rage a go instead.  Swords and Darkness lacks any sense of fun, originality, and quality that is present in those games.