Feb 22, 2016[OVERVIEW = 10]
A hack-and-slash with unique 360-degree sword control.
[PRESENTATION = 5] (Graphics = 4) Not particularly impressive by 1998 standards, but not as blocky as it could be. Resolution and framerate are painfully low unless you use the “Xtended” mod. (Visual aesthetics = 2)The background is entirely muddy brown textures that mix very poorly, making it difficult to look at[OVERVIEW = 10]
A hack-and-slash with unique 360-degree sword control.
[PRESENTATION = 5]
(Graphics = 4) Not particularly impressive by 1998 standards, but not as blocky as it could be. Resolution and framerate are painfully low unless you use the “Xtended” mod.
(Visual aesthetics = 2)The background is entirely muddy brown textures that mix very poorly, making it difficult to look at and often confusing to interpret, even if you upgrade with the “Xtended” texture mod. It’s a case study in why older games age poorly unless they use cel-shading or simple textures. Character models do fare a little better. Good blood effects.
(Sound Effects = 8)
(Music = 5)
(Voice Acting = 7) A few quips here and there.
(Physics = 7) Body parts fly off properly but there’s no ragdoll physics.
(Plot = 7) Simple but unobtrusive.
[CONTROLS/MECHANICS = 10]
(Hack-and-Slash = 10 (95% of game)) What makes DbtS unique is the simulation-style control scheme. Move the mouse up or down to move the sword in a vertical circle in front of you (i.e., the “Saggital” plane). Left and right controls its position parallel to the ground (the “Axial” plane). Strikes are accomplished by moving the sword from one position, through the enemy’s character model, to another position, and--incredibly--the game considers the speed of the swing, your jumping/walking movement, the enemy’s movement, and the location on the enemy in calculating damage and knockback. You block by putting your sword in a position to interrupt an enemy swing. If you get blocked, your sword bounces slightly and you have to reorient to the new mouse position. The left mouse button bends your elbow 90 degrees, sacrificing reach for better blocking paths. It’s pixel-perfect, and the physics involved was a major achievement in 1998. The swinging controls are limited by the fact that you can’t move your mouse past a--slightly slow--speed or the game stops recognizing the input.
No game since has managed this degree of spherical precision. “Mount-and-Blade” and “Jedi Knight” games are simplistic by comparison. Wii-motion-plus games--“Wii Sports Resort:Swordfighting,” “TLoZ: Skyward Sword,” and “Red Steel 2”--have come the closest in the sense that they allow you to position your sword, but even they only recognize 8 possible swing directions and only 2--horizontal or vertical--blocks, and only when the wiimote works at all.
Movement on the keyboard includes both strafing and turning--critical distinctions with hit detection this precise--and holding spacebar crouches while double-tapping spacebar jumps, which I really like; who jumps first without crouching their legs?
You can wield severed limbs, still holding their weapons, thus extending your attack reach. Apparently it’s possible to throw by swinging and letting go at the right moment, but I never managed to aim properly. You can also play as characters with functioning shields in the left hand.
There’s an optional “arcade”-style control scheme, but it invalidates the whole point of the game.
(Platforming = 7 (5% of game)) There’s a bit of jumping and pulling yourself onto ledges--with the sword holstered--to facilitate the fetch-quest puzzles.
(Enemy AI = 9) Despite the complexity, it works really well, and enemy species will often fight each other.
(Camera = 8) No complaints.
[DESIGN = 6]
(Interface = 6) You have to press F3 to turn on health bars.
(Level design = 6) Mostly good, often interesting, but there’s one cave section where I got lost for a long while. A few sections mix things up, such as being suspended upside-down by a cut-able rope while enemies attack, a floating raft, etc., but more could have been done with the mechanics.
(Enemy design = 9) Great variety.
(Difficulty Curve = 3) Way too hard, with too few health potions. The game could have really used recharging health. I didn’t beat the singleplayer mode without enabling the godmode cheat…often.
(Upgrade System) None, which is fine.
(Modes) = The DbtS and its LfL expansion both have singleplayer campaigns. There is a cool 2 vs 2 version of hockey in LfL where you use the mechanics to knock a smaller enemy into the goal. My favorite is the Arena mode, where you can free-for-all against 3 enemies in a variety of levels with their own traps/swinging blades. The “Xtended” mod also has a really cool level where you play in an 8 vs 8 skirmish. 1 vs 1 multiplayer LAN works--and is awesome--but I couldn’t get anything with more players working properly.
(Length) = 2 hours to beat each single-player mode (20% Padding), but I spent much more time in the Arena.
Despite its flaws, mainly the graphical mess and excessive difficulty, DbtS earns a 10 because its control scheme offers a unique experience. Its pseudosequel, “Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm” for Dreamcast, squandered all of DbtS’s advances by reverting to arcade controls, so the gameplay mechanics were lost to future generations, which is sad, because a modern version has so much potential.… Expand
Oct 29, 2013Definitely the best sword playing game. To my opinion the best game ever. Learning game dynamics is not easy. This was one of the game's misfortunes. Many people who couldnt understand using sword mechanics didnt like game. But who could learn that he loved the game.