Strength of the Sword 3, an ambitious title created by indie development Ivent Games, strikes an interesting middle ground between the fighting mechanics found in God of War and the backbreaking difficulty of Dark Souls. Ivent, only consisting of three individuals, has created a solid digital title that I recommend.
Booting up the game for the first time, gamers will encounter the two main modes Strength of the Sword 3 has to offer: arena and story mode. The former forces players to fight numerous waves of enemies, acquiring points along the way as a timer counts down to zero. Players utilize these points to gain more time on the clock, buy new weapons, and gear. I recommend playing arena mode before heading into the story, as players are able to unlock items that can be transferred to the main storyline. Considering the steep difficulty of Strength of the Sword 3, players should take advantage of these opportunities. One downside, unfortunately, is that arena takes place in only one location, meaning it can become monotonous at times. Thankfully, a variety of enemies help to keep the experience fresh and the game does an excellent job rewarding players for their invested time and effort. For those who are interested, arena also automatically submits your score after each match to an online leaderboard.
The storyline offered by Strength of the Sword 3 is incredibly simplistic. Artistically speaking, the game takes a unique approach by using two-dimensional paper cutouts to represent your character taking out enemies and developing throughout the game. But the most impressive feature of this indie title is by far the game’s AI, which quickly learns and adapts based on players’ combination of attacks and playing style. This dynamic AI forces gamer to adopt a variety of strategies, hindering those who normally opt to find one string of combos and repeat them throughout the entirety of a game. This is exacerbated by the multitude of enemy types, again varying the number of approaches necessary to being successful and contributing to the game’s difficulty. Unfortunately, the number of combos available is somewhat restrictive and a definite hinderance to the gameplay experience. While the variety of enemies and approaches, along with the lack of effective combos, makes the game very challenging, it is always fair and inspires players to keep replaying a match until overcome. Additionally, it is important to note that matches have high replay value thanks to a strong incentive system. Gaining stars depending on your performance throughout a chapter, players can unlock new weapons, shields, and gear depending on how well they do. New weapons and shields are also acquired at the end of boss fights.
There are no debilitating glitches or issues present in Strength of the Sword 3. There have been instances when matches have malfunctioned, causing enemies to fall through the floor or stop spawning, but these can easily be resolved by returning to the main menu. Because level sizes are not horrendously expansive, the occasional glitch does not cost players considerable in-game progress. There are also issues with the game’s targeting system, which sometimes comes into conflict with the environment and is rendered useless. Lastly, some issues pertaining to physical collision detection with environmental pieces, such as boxes and barrels, seem present and allow players to occasional dodge right through them.
Despite the aforementioned issues, Strength of the Sword 3 is a fair download title that I would recommend. For such a small team, the visuals boasted by this title are simple yet impressive. Ivent Games did a wonderful job creating a vibrant, diverse environment for players to experience. The game itself is short, roughly 3-to-4 hours in length, but the replay value is enormous and adds hours of additional enjoyment.