Sometimes, a game will look cool and enjoyable, so you then decide to immerse yourself into it and become excited for what it has in store for you. In a best-case scenario, the game gives you more possibilities than you could have imagined and exceeds your highest expectations. In less ideal situations, the opposite is true, and you’ve already seen everything that the game has to offer. The game turns out to be shallow and unsurprising, leaving you with nothing but regret and disappointment. How does Dark Sword stack up to what I expected it to be? Well, it’s not terrible, but it unfortunately falls into the latter category.
Dark Sword is an Android RPG, enthusiastically brought to us by NANOO COMPANY Inc., with simple gameplay and even simpler art design. Right off the bat, I had an issue with Dark Sword: I couldn’t tell if the silhouette-esque design was a due to a creative decision or a lack of effort. Even now, I’m still not sure. At first, it seems like a cool aesthetic for the first batch of levels. When you reach the second set of stages, you realize that nothing—not the main character, enemies, or obstacles—has any detail to them whatsoever. This is highly subjective, but it seemed lazy rather than intentionally minimalistic.
The gameplay of Dark Sword consists of a hack and slash combat with some barebones RPG elements. There is no turn- or grid-based combat to be found here. The fighting is about as deep as Streets of Rage. There are buttons to slash, jump, roll, and drink potions. You can attack while in midair, but this barely adds any variety to the combat. There are also other buttons that each activate a screen-clearing skill, but those are essentially your only options while to fight against the silhouette beasts.
Each level in Dark Sword contains a few small hordes of enemies, with some of them unleashing a boss against you after you clear them. If the bosses weren’t labeled as such, they would be indistinguishable from normal enemies. The only real difference in boss fights is an emphasis on rolling, as bosses do much heavier damage than their shadowy grunts, but the bouts still don’t feel unique. As a result, combat can get repetitive fairly quickly.
The RPG part of the Dark Sword lies in its inventory and upgrade systems. You can equip the standard pieces of armor and stat-increasing accessories that most other RPGs offer. The option to sell or upgrade them is also there so that your inventory screen doesn’t stay static for too long. Unfortunately, your powerful special attacks are tied to your equipment. This means that selling a piece of armor will also rob you of your strongest means of attack, so be sure to choose wisely.
Dark Sword falls victim to the annoying trend in mobile gaming that offers you items or currency in exchange for watching an ad. The problem is that, like many microtransaction-riddled games, these seem more necessary than just suggested. You upgrade your equipment with gold, but improving your items will take much longer should you refuse to take the game up on its offer of watching an ad. If you don’t feel like watching thirty seconds of video after each level, prepare to replay some levels in hopes of earning some gold. Coupled with holding your progress ransom, all of the above elements add up to make Dark Sword feel like a shallow experience. It functions well enough if you’re into mindless hacking and slashing, but you’ll probably forget about the game within a day or two.
Dark Sword is a structurally sound game, but there is nearly no depth to its slashing.