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Strength of the SWORD 3
Score: 76%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: IVENT
Developer: IVENT
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
Strength of the SWORD 3 is a third person action indie game developed by two man studio IVENT Games. Players assume the role of a powerful war machine sent by the gods to combat the Dark Mechanism and its hordes of minions. Oddly, despite being called Strength of the SWORD 3, it is not part of a series and is actually a single title.

Strength of the SWORD 3 features cartoon-like graphics, with background objects appearing very askew or unrealistic. The background changes as players progress to different stages, such as from a devastated town to a dark, gloomy forest. The character models and the combat area are all rendered in 3D. Certain levels feature fire or machinery and these hazards can cause damage to both enemies and the player. The story progresses through a cut scene after a player has defeated an enemy or boss stage and displays a book where 2D images of the player character and enemy characters are shown. The player quickly chops down enemy resistance and moves on to the next stage on the map in the book.

The music in Strength of the SWORD 3 is all instrumental, and very melodic. The pieces that are played fit the scenes very well and are very similar to orchestral scores, such as the score during the fourth mission where tribal elements are mixed into the music to amplify the scene. At the end of a level, a heroic fanfare is played to give players a sense of accomplishment.

Strength of the SWORD 3 lacks any significant storytelling voiceover, only featuring small sound clips for the various bosses and text writing to decipher the point they are attempting to make. The game also features general combat sounds, such as sword slashes and various noises that come from the player character whenever an action such as a jump is performed or grunts from the various enemies whenever they perform an action. Players should be able to easily follow the events of the Story Mode even though storytelling voiceovers are not present.

In Strength of the SWORD 3, players control a high-powered war machine and battle enemies on each stage in the campaign. The stage is complete once the player has defeated all enemies. Naturally, as a player progresses through each stage, enemy waves become more difficult, with single enemy encounters becoming a rarity and enemy groups more common.

In Strength of the SWORD 3, the player is given a set health bar that cannot be upgraded during the game and can be viewed at the bottom of the screen. In addition to health, the player’s shield bar and mana bar are at the bottom of the screen. The shield bar shows how much damage the player’s current shield can negate and goes down as the player blocks more hits. The mana bar can be filled by using the mana charge ability (Circle Button and Up on the Control Stick) and can be filled up to five bars. Mana allows the players to use more powerful combo attacks.

Strength of the SWORD 3 features a combat evaluation where the player is graded on performance at the end of each level. These evaluations look at the player's Defense, Offense and Speed and combines them into a total score, which decides the player's Style Rating for that specific level. The Defense score is measured by how often a player caused enemy attacks to miss by dodging or successfully parrying. The Offense score is raised by how often a player could successfully attack an enemy, and the Speed score is raised by how quickly you dodge enemy attacks and move around. The key to obtaining a good combat evaluation is maintaining control of the battle at all times.

Strength of the SWORD 3 lacks any multiplayer modes, but features an Online Leaderboard where players may compete for high scores on all the levels. In addition, the game also features a Challenge Pit Mode, where players are put into an arena and must survive against multiple enemy waves until they are defeated, end the challenge, or the challenge time expires. During waves, the player gains points that may be exchanged for health, mana, time on the clock, a shield repair and max ammo at any time by going to the Pause Menu and Bonus Shop. Despite these challenges, players may feel somewhat unfulfilled once they master and complete the game modes offered.

Despite lacking formal difficulty settings for the Story Mode, Strength of the SWORD 3 gives players an intense challenge with advanced enemy A.I. Enemies adapt to the player's play style, meaning they will block or parry aggressive players and use more strategic approaches against cautious and defending players. Enemy groups will also use advanced tactics against players, meaning that if two or more enemies are present, they will work together in order to defeat the player. The bosses also use advanced tactics, but will resort to overwhelming force if the player does not attack often.

In the Challenge Pit Mode, players are able to select a difficulty in which to play. The difficulty settings are Easy, Normal, Hard and Insane and give players different levels of challenge depending on the setting chosen. Naturally, higher difficulty settings will give players a tougher challenge.

Game Mechanics:
In Strength of the SWORD 3, players are able to choose a specific sword and shield in order to use in combat. Swords affect the player's attack speed and damage output, while shields affect the player’s defense power and the durability of the shield. Both affect the player’s movement.

In order to defeat enemies and progress in Strength of the SWORD 3, players must be able to use the basic abilities strategically. The player is able to Jump with (X), Slash with the (Square), Stab with the (Triangle) and Block with the (Circle) buttons. The Stab attack doubles as the Grab Attack and allows players to mash (Triangle) to get more hits in, followed by knocking the enemy back by pressing the (Square). (R2) allows players to boost to close gaps between enemies and also can be used in combos. The player’s combos can be viewed from the combo list on the Pause Menu.

If timed correctly, the player is able to execute a parry by pressing (Circle) right before the enemy attack lands. This allows players to stun an enemy and perform a follow-up attack. Players may find it tough, if not impossible, to counter the boss enemies' powerful attacks.

After completing certain stages, the player unlocks items which can be selected using the Right Analog Stick and used with (L2). Items vary from throwing knives to health packs and are limited in use. The amount of uses that an item has is shown above the health bar at the bottom of the screen and should be used wisely as they can greatly help the player in the tougher battles. Items are restored when the player moves on to the next level.

Players are able to use a finisher move by pressing (Triangle) near a weakened enemy. This allows for a series of quick ending blows where time freezes around the player until the animation is complete. Performing a finisher on an enemy grants players points in the combat evaluation.

Strength of the SWORD 3 gives experienced action gamers a tough challenge and a fun time with its requirement of strategic gameplay to succeed. However, the brutal enemies and punishing combat system can make all but the strongest-willed players want to throw something out of the window. The player is forced to change tactics from level to level and will have to make multiple attempts to complete certain stages. If a player can get past all that, they’ll be in for a grand time.

-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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