(Videogame) “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” Review

“A female Craftknight is greater than a male one. True of False?”
Sanary

 

 

I picked up some Game Boy Advance games recently out of nostalgia, and I plan to play a couple of them! “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” was one of my earliest GBA games over a decade ago, and I still remember a number of elements of the story and the overall mechanic of the game; they are just sooo memorable! XD

The story is about Cleru or Pratty (though you can name him/her whatever you wish), an apprentice working for Bron, a blacksmith. Cleru/Pratty is the child of Shintetsu, one of the seven Craftlords in the city of Wystern. Shintetsu sacrificed himself in order to seal a certain powerful monster, and a tournament is held in Wystern in order to determine his successor. As his child, Cleru/Pratty aims to achieve his dream of becoming a Craftknight, and following the path of his/her father as a Craftlord.

That is basically the general storyline, but as the game progresses, a more complicated plot is introduced, turning it from a tournament-based story to one involving drama and the fate of the world. Aside from the main story, at the end of each ‘chapter’, players can decide to talk with a list of available characters which expands as the game goes on; this is similar to a ‘relationship-enhancement’ system where you get closer to the character(s) you choose, and this affects the ending that you will get, adding further depth to the story.

Summon1

The story is not exactly ‘amazing’ in my opinion. Although the initial premise is somehow unique, after a while, it gets quite predictable and if observed closely, it can even be considered as a generic fantasy plotline which has been applied in a wide variety of media. Nevertheless, the character design (as in the art and the archetypes used) is superb for me, and that makes the generic plot less of a negative point. In fact, I don’t think that is not a problem at all, since there are plenty of movies, books, and games that utilize similar formula with one another.

When such ‘coincidence’ occurs, it really depends on the characters to add the essential spice that makes the storytelling engaging, and I believe “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” manages to deliver that point somewhat satisfyingly; everything is fine except for the sudden switch of personality. Personality switches are common in storytelling, but when it happens too easily or suddenly, it lacks the fundamental impact. It’s not a long game and it is meant to be played on the go without any overly complicated narrative, but I do believe that a more explored character-depth should have been possible.

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As for the gameplay, it is not a traditional RPG, but rather, the game utilizes real-time action system where the players would have to maneuver the character across the screen in a two-dimensional fashion within a side-scrolling map. During battle, players are able to cast various spells through their guardian beast, switch weapons, and perform attacks unique to each type of the weapons.

There are five kinds of weapons available: sword, spear, axe, knuckle, and drill. Players can craft them after obtaining the technique and the required materials, and they offer different playstyle. Moreover, players can switch from a sword to a drill mid-battle, enabling deeper strategic decisions while battling. Additionally, each monsters have their own elemental types, and different elemental spells might have different damage calculations on them.  Outside of battle, it plays just like any 2D RPGs; players walk around, talk to people, explore collecting loots, grind for levels, and finish sidequests for extra rewards.

“Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” is a great game despite its generic story; the beautiful character design and engaging gameplay makes up for that, and a game that puts the relationship between its characters as the primary drive for the plot is always a nice thing to have 🙂 .

Rating from me: 3.5/5

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