Overview – Developed by Experience Inc and Codeglue with publishing handled by NIS America, Saviors of Sapphire Wings/Stranger of Sword City Revisited is a double pack of Dungeon Crawling RPG titles. This twin release contains over 100 hours of content between them, with engaging stories, tense combat and a cast of characters that will pull you into the experience. This pack is available for the Nintendo Switch and Windows computers, links to each version of this title will be available at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank NIS America for providing the copy of Saviors of Sapphire Wings/Stranger of Sword City Revisited that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be covering the story segments for each game separately and discus some features of both games mechanics separately, with the other areas like presentation and controls covering both titles together. I will be shortening Saviors of Sapphire Wings to simply Saviors and Stranger of Sword City Revisited to just Stranger, this is for brevity when discussing their unique features.
Saviors of Sapphire Wings Story – 100 years ago a great battle took place, where the Knights of the Round led by Xth Landlight fought against the evil Overlord Ol=Ohma. Tragically, the Knights fell in battle and the Overlord took control of the land of Alda. Now the spirit has been reincarnated into the body of a new hero, who must form a new group of Knights and build bonds strong enough to finally defeat the great evil, restoring peace and light to the world.
Stranger of Sword City Revisited Story – one day, a plane went missing without a trace. The plane was never found, without any trace of survivors. After the plane went missing, it crashed down in an unknown land. The lone survivor crawls from the wreckage, awaking under a starry yet unfamiliar sky. They find themselves in Sword City, Escario, a land inhabited by strange creatures, fierce monsters and mysterious labyrinths. This person soon discovers they are a chosen one, a stranger of sword city.
Gameplay – the core gameplay of both games in this pack share a lot of mechanics between them. Both titles are traditional dungeon crawling RPG games, featuring a first person perspective and turn based combat. The player can form a party of up to six different characters, with a front and back row that allows for strategy to be used in the many battles. There is a wide selection of character races, classes and other factors that can be combined to create the ideal party.
The dungeons that players can explore consist of corridors, open spaces, gates and even deadly traps spread over several unique environments. The areas are filled with enemies, treasures and objects that the players can interact with throughout the zones. Enemies can attack the player party at random, appearing without warning and initiating combat, alongside designated monster encounters that must be taken on in order to proceed.
When an encounter is initiated, turn based combat begins with a variety of options available to party members that include attacking, defending, casting spells and using items. Once all actions have been selected, the player can select either apply which will play out move individually or fast apply, where all moves are executed immediately. The first option is recommended for most combat encounters as fast apply skips important details of each turn, such as poison and status effects which can lead to death quickly.
The combat can be very tense in both titles, with fast paced back and forth combat that has a lot of strategy behind it. The spells feature an elemental system, where fire is weak to water, water is weak to lightning and earth is weak to fire. This combines with a front and back row mechanic, where stronger combatants can be positioned in front of the weaker ones, protecting them from damage as they support their partners. These systems work very well, but take weapon range into account as melee attacks may not reach from the back.
At the end of each battle that has been completed, party members that are still standing will earn EXP points that are used to level characters up. This is where the first major difference between the two games begins. In Saviors, the characters in the player party will level up immediately, letting the player increase the chosen stats of that character immediately. However, in Stranger, the party members must level up outside of the dungeons by speaking to a designated NPC in the main home base area.
Speaking of the home base, there are many differences between the two main safe zones in each game. The base in Saviors is the Fort of the Round Rondaer, a floating fortress that contains all of the essentials that the player needs, including an alchemy lab where items can be crafted and equipment may be upgraded. There are also quarters where the player can talk to their party, allowing them to bond with members at Rondaer and during story segments, building up the affections between characters.
Alongside the bonding system and inventory management options in Rondaer, the player is able to take quests from a noticeboard in the main area. The objectives that can be undertaken, include story based missions to progress the story and special side missions to earn extra rewards. Aside from the Flying Fortress, there are towns that can be explored with merchants and NPC characters to interact with, fleshing the world of Saviors out even more.
In Stranger, the main safe zone is the Strangers Guild, a major hub where there are many options for the player to explore. In the guild, there is a shop where you can buy and sell items, upgrade equipment and store excess items. There is also a base where characters can be healed and the party can be managed. When party members fall in battle, they can be revived in two ways, an instant option that immediately heals the character for a fee or hospitalization where the fallen heal over time.
Take great care with the health of the party, as they are at risk of permanent death if they are incapacitated too many times causing them to vanish from the world. New party members can be recruited at the base, but be careful when doing this as poor choices may lead to increased difficulty and potential failure if poor choices are made.
The last part of the base in Stranger is the leaders room, an area where the player can speak to NPC characters and learn more about the land, helping to progress the story and power up their protagonist. The player can also talk to other NPC characters to learn about unique enemies called lineage types that can be hunted down, granting special rewards if the monsters are subdued while exploring the world. All of these features add a lot of depth to this title, breathing life into the setting.
There is so much more I could talk about, but the fun of these titles is discovering the intricate systems and mechanics in play. Now I will be moving onto the other aspects of the games, starting with the difficulty.
Difficulty – both of these titles are very challenging RPG experiences, where failure can set players back a significant amount if the party is defeated. The difficulty level for Stranger is preset and cannot be changed, which can be a setback for players as leaving the labyrinth is one of the only way to save the game and keep party members from vanishing. Saviors on the other hand is a little more relaxed as the game can be saved freely, along with a difficulty option that can alter the challenge for those who may be struggling a little.
Controls – both of these games have the same control method, using the left side of the controller and shoulder buttons to navigate the dungeon sections. The face buttons are used for actions, menu navigations and investigation of the area, creating a very straight forward and easy to pick up experience. These games can be played comfortably with both a pro controller and the Joy-Cons, with no lag or issues at all in both docked and handheld play.
Presentation – the visual style for this pack is a mix of dark fantasy and traditional JRPG artwork, with beautiful portraits for the characters and unsettling imagery for most of the creatures that are encountered. I found that the dungeon environments were crafted very well, with a couple of minor faults which are the rendering distance and lighting in some places. These minor inconsistencies can cause a little difficulty with navigating the labyrinths, but the map feature helps to deal with these flaws.
The music for both titles is beautiful, implimenting orchestral compositions throughout both games during story segments, battles and dungeon exploration. There is also a very good implementation of nature sounds, like the rush of wind or the falling of rain, breaking up the music and adding a different atmosphere to some areas. One thing that is disappoint about the sound of Saviors is the complete lack of voice acting, whereas Stranger has voice lines during many parts of its experience. There is an option for original or remastered music in Saviors, but it isn’t much of a consolation.
Final Thoughts – well, I spent a lot of time with both of these games for this review and I can safely say that I had a great time for the most part. The difficulty of combat encounters in Stranger was quite punishing, leading to many failures and a considerable amount of time lost due to having to reload. This wasn’t an issue when playing Saviors, as that title has the luxury of being able to save freely in and out of the labyrinth. The gameplay is engaging in both games, which I really got pulled into as a fan of this particular sub-genre of JRPG titles.
The high difficulty of the game may be off putting to those who don’t enjoy very challenging RPG experiences, but I can recommend this pack to those who have played games like the Mary Skelter and Genkai Tokki (Moero Chronicle/Crystal) series. The artwork for the characters is stunning, the combat is exciting and the intricate systems in both games make for a fresh dungeon crawling experience. I feel it may be worth the investment if the lack of voice acting in Saviors and overall challenge isn’t a deal breaker.
In the end, I give Saviors of Sapphire Wings/Stranger of Sword City Revisited a final score of 4/5. This double pack provides countless hours of engaging dungeon crawling action, with many secrets to uncover and quests to complete. The tough battles will keep you on your toes, but the rush of victory is worth it. If you want to check this release out for yourself, links to available versions will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)
Link to Epic Games version (HERE)
Link to G.O.G version (HERE)