Stranger of Sword City
The game starts with the news of plane crashing down, and you was in the plane, but instead of dying, you find yourself taken to another world, Escarion - a place, where you are not the only one transported, as lot of stuff from our world often end there, as there is lot of broken planes, trains and even ships around, in this place you character is called a "Stranger", because people from other world, are not only stranger in this place, but wield different powers here. But you soon get yourself in a trouble as misterious stranger lead you to a trap only to be saved by another Stranger, a young girl named Riu, which also came from our world, she saves you and take you to the Sword City - from this point on - begin your adventures as a "Stranger in Sword City" a Dungeon Crawler from Experience published by Nisa.
Now while you start with a single character at the beginning, you can (and should) create a party, the game offer the classic array of classes, but each one have some unique features - Knight (which have skills based in attacking enemies in rows and other to protect the party), Samurai (which focus in dual wielding, attacking enemies in lines and engaging in one to one duels) , Fighter (which can concentrate to unleash powerfull attacks), Ranger (focused in long range and tie down enemies), Ninja (with critical hit based skills and evasion based skills), Dancer (which have a variety of skills, which allow them thing like using two or more item at once, hitting enemies no matter their position), Cleric (Healing and Buff magic) and Wizard (Attack and buff spells).
The game features a "Life Point" system, each character will have a certain amount of "Life points" depending on their age (younger character get more while older less) and each time a character dies a point will be lost, if all points are lost them the character will be lost forever, thankfully, there is both items (but rare) which heal Life and you can recover them by resting on the Stranger´s base with either time or gold (instantly). However, your main character, due story reasons, isn´t affect by Life Point loss despite how many times they might die (but this is only for the MC the rest of the party work as normal).
Most of the game will be around finding and hunting the Lineage types of each map, unique monsters encounters that often require some condition to me meet, defeating them wield Blood Crystals, which could be given to three NPCs, each one unlocks special abilities, called Divinity and also set which ending you might see - Riu will lead to the Neutral ending, Marilith to the Good ending and Alma to the Bad ending. By doing this hunts you unlock more of the story and newer maps to go.
The Divinity is one of the game most curious features, as you characters attack enemies they will gain Morale, and his could be spend using the Divinity, each one have different effects, such as giving your whole party ability to attack first, recover HP each turn, protect from certain spells and other types of buffs - knowing how to use them will be often very crucial during both Lineage types and Boss battles, which might often require a careful timing.
The ambush system is another of interesting features of the game, where instead of grind random encounters around the map, your major source of XP and gear will come from the from the "Ambush Points" scattered in each map, in this places, by spending a bit of Morale, you can set, as much the name suggest, an ambush, where you might find different monster groups, each one carrying a potential treasure, where you can choose to attack them or let them pass (in case their treasure isn´t good or they are too powerful) and see if you can spot another one. Also majority of the Lineage types you face will be in ambush points.
This system mean you have much wider control when you grind, since you can have much better idea of what might get from the encounter and therefore, grind almost exactly what you need. Like if you need a new Katana, you might just go around a map where in ambush points you might find monster parties carrying Katana chests and ambush them.
There is also a system for multiclass your characters, where at any point you can chance your class to another one (but at half your current class level, so if you are 20 Level Knight and change to Samurai, you will be at level 10), but you allow to carry around some skills for the previous class, with the Token skills, at certain levels, each class gain certain Token Skill points, each one let you choose a skill from the previous class to keep around (and you can change them at anytime). Using this system is often crucial at late game, where you might need a combination of different class skills to survive.
Another fun feature, is that you can choose the art style of the game, as the game features to main artists, one with a more high fantasy and another more dark fantasy in style. You can also set up your own custom portraits too. Note: the screenshots used in the review are from the more dark fantasy themed art.
The game it is very good, the pace feels right, thanks to both the grid based maps never felling to huge or small and even the grind isn´t much a issue, as you have much better control of what you might get, while Lineage battles offer a interesting challenge. It is important to add, the PC version is so called "White Palace"(白の王宮) version, because there is different versions of the game, the vita is the "Black Palace"(黒の宮殿) the major different between them is some Lineage bosses and if the one of the end dungeons is either the Black Palace of the White Palace. After the main story, which isn´t much very long by itself, but leveling up and hunting gear might take its time, there is some post game content - the first based around the so called White/Black Palace map, the second is about visiting four new dungeons with some new bosses, which are extra hard. By last, there is a NG plus system too.
Downsides? I do admit, that while there might be some, most of them where rather minimal, like some bosses can be really hard without good divinity skills, like ones which cast charm, which require you to have a certain divinity skill in hand and ready to cast or risk losing control of the situation, but, again this rather minimal, as the game kind warn you to have this skill ready by time bosses start to use it. However, depending of which ending you are looking that might mean straying away a bit or twice (spoilers: there is a single boss, which cast charm twice, so you might need a upgrade version of the skill which protect you two times from charm). Also a few bosses have skills which can instantly kill a character if you aren´t ready.
One final point, the game music is gorgeous, specially, the lineage music. Below are some screenshots