Sword of the Slayer Hits Android
Have you ever heard the saying “The book was better?” Sometimes stories are just told better without the limitations commonly found in graphic design and animation. A perfect example is the text adventure Sword of the Slayer from the Android app Choice of Games.
Sword of the Slayer is a 185,000-word interactive fantasy novel by S. Andrew Swann. Choices control the story. Our main character is a common orphan scraping a living on the streets of Targas Adur (a city that appears to be the entire world to those that live there), full of dark corners and darker magics, ruled by a merciless Sorcerer King, Demorgon.
The adventure begins during a moment of peaceful adulthood interrupted by rampaging guards and you end up within chilling catacombs where you stumble upon The Sword. Not only is the sword a bossy little twit, but it’s also an ancient weapon made by the Gods’ eons ago.
Sword of the Slayer avoids the pitfalls that can occur with bad graphics and spotty sound effects by cutting them out entirely. Instead, it relies solely on written mechanics to push this “Choose Your Own Adventure” forward.
No, Don’t Get Disappointed!
Nevertheless, before you leave in a huff, hear me out. Sword of the Slayer makes up for exclusive depictions in black and white by giving the player everything they have ever wanted in a plot. Do you like action and battles? S. Andrew Swann provides plenty of opportunities to get in a good sword fight. Do you crave a bit of romance and humanity? The player can pick their own sexuality, and there is no shortage of characters to get close to. There’s even a warm welcome for agendered, asexuals gamers, as well.
Additionally, everything anyone comes to expect from a playable experience can be found somewhere in Sword of the Slayer. There aren’t any artistic renditions or cut scenes to break up the paragraphs, but there is a character creation moment. The player can choose their name, their gender, their sexuality, their career, and their background.
To make matters even more brilliant, these choices aren’t meaningless. Every single decision affects how your story continues. Deciding to be a traveling stock person will develop your ability stats in a completely different way than choosing to be a street thief.
Stats, Stats, and More Stats
These states aren’t minimalistic either. There are five Ability stats, (Brawn, Agility, Scholarship, Discourse, and Swordsmanship) three Belief scales, (Altruism vs. Individualism, Hedonism vs. Asceticism, and Darkness levels) and another five Status bars (Fealty, Piety, Renown, Thrall, and Sword Power). These combined with an ever-growing list of relationship stats tell the player everything they need to know about their potential ending.
However, absolutely none of these stats are explained in the straightforward way that gamers have come to expect. Sometimes there are hints that can lead to finally understanding how Fealty works in a city where the ruler is evil. Things like “Thrall” are mentioned throughout the story —starting with the game summary in the App Store. These references don’t nail down any answers. It could mean how far your character has fallen under the command of their talking sword, or it could be about their shaky belief in the Gods of Old.
It’s certainly a puzzle for the brain. What you can deduce and theorize can change the course of a relationship with a background character or it could save the life of everyone in the city of Targas Adur. This guesswork is extremely engaging, though I would like a final summary or a stat explanation at the end. Getting to the end and having the game immediately ask for a restart was unsatisfying. It felt like a loose end to an otherwise tied up conclusion.
Sword of the Slayer isn’t a typical exercise wheel for the hands and eyes like some mobile games, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.
Create your adventurer, choose your sexuality, and make sure to strap your talking sword to your back because Targas Adur needs a demon slayer!