Swordbreaker: Origins Review | Moulding and following the path of our Swordbreaker, a young male adventurer, can and will lead to dangerous scenarios that all heavily rely on the decisions you make. Whether these are correct or incorrect could affect the fate you suffer or propel you into new territory. In Swordbreaker: Origins, the game and its path are entirely down to your choices. With a story that can take you in multiple directions, there is plenty to explore and uncover across the kingdom of Dorgan. This prequel is a wonderfully illustrated game which enlightens us about our Swordbreakers childhood and events that happened before Swordbreaker: The Game. It should also be noted you don’t have to play the previously mentioned to enjoy this title. Developed by DuCats Studio Games and published by Sometimes You, Swordbreaker: Origins will all be down to your approach. You may come to a grizzly death but if you succeed, will you be a hero, coward, or killer? Actions have consequences; remember that if nothing else.
|Developer||DuCats Games Studio|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Plethora of choices | Choices, decisions, and/or dilemmas. Get used to them because they are around every corner and could be more important than you realise. They could cost your character his life if you aren’t careful. This made for some fantastic content as I spent significant amounts of time weighing up my options, trying to work out which choice was likely the most logical. Needless to say, that didn’t always work and I was often left with complete faith in only one thing – pure dumb luck. Due to the different choices which took me in multiple directions, I was always finding fresh choices I hadn’t previously encountered and these always got me excited to make the correct option so I could progress even further into the unknown.
- Non-linear story | The whole concept of Swordbreaker: Origins gives the player all control as to which path they choose to forge based entirely on their decisions and there are plenty of paths to follow as well as opportunities to change directions. This means the story is never linear and can be told in multiple ways depending on which scenarios you encounter and how you decide to confront them. I enjoyed the variety present within Swordbreaker: Origins as it excelled my curiosity to try out new options, hoping it would impact how my story was created and the ending I would receive if I was successful with my adventure. Perfect for those who want to try out a series of different choices to see where it lands them. Who knows? You might just find the perfect route and story for you.
- Mini-games | One in-game element I didn’t expect to encounter while playing Swordbreaker: Origins was the inclusion of mini-games scattered through various paths. They were a fantastic addition to the game as they added another variation of gameplay other than continuous decision-making. They weren’t complex and were quite simplistic to successfully complete but that didn’t matter because they managed to separate and change the pacing in such a clever way to keep you engaged on your journey. The game certainly stays true to being an interactive visual novel that mixes sedentary and active gameplay. I’m already a massive fan of visual novels but this unexpected addition took the game up a notch.
- Replayability | Visual novels in general often struggle with their amount of replayability but that is a worry you can safely put to the back of your mind when playing Swordbreaker: Origins because you are spoilt for choice. With over five hundred scenes to experience in total, both story and death, with achievements which are related to your choices in specific situations, replayability is unquestionably present and provides you with plenty to discover. Remembering your decisions and where they lead you are crucial in the progression and will determine whether you reach will new areas, discover additional NPCs, or at least die trying. It goes without saying that you will need to work your way along multiple routes to fully complete the game.
- Map reference | Grateful doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt about this feature being added to Swordbreaker: Origins. From either the main menu or in-game you can check your map to check and preview all the scenes you have come across, including where you have previously failed and been killed. This is perfect to use as a reference point if you want to check where you’re heading, went wrong previously, or simply look for scenes you are yet to come across to try out something new. Without this, I would have been lost and it would have taken me much longer to realise what I needed to do to traverse unknown paths so I’m beyond thankful this has been included. Brilliant for forgetful people like myself.
- Three lives per playthrough | With each individual playthrough, you are granted three lives. These allow you to make three fatal mistakes before our Swordbreakers journey comes to an end and you are required to restart from the very beginning of the game. I absolutely loved this and thought it was fantastic as it provided another level into the gameplay which made me question and debate my decisions more than I typically would. Every time I lost one of my precious lives, the intensity increased and that is something I believe must be quite hard to fit into a visual novel. This combined with the death scenes was just spot on. This a simple element which made Swordbreaker: Origins stand out from other visual novels.
- Visually charming | Swordbreaker: Origins is another game which has managed to convert my opinion regarding its art style. When I first witnessed the appearance of this title, I wasn’t convinced I was going to get on with the game on a visual level but this didn’t last and I found myself growing progressively more fond of the art style the longer I played. This was because each scene had its own separate illustration, conveying the situations accurately so my imagination could picture everything in action. Sadly, the artwork does vary in quality and consistency as some pieces look far better than others. As I’ve mentioned in the past, visual novels need good visuals – it’s what half of the genre title describes after all so I think these could have been improved in multiple scenes.
- Fitting audio | The music in the main menu of Swordbreaker: Origins undoubtedly suits the story and its time period and does a fantastic job of getting you worked up and ready for your adventure. The ambience has been placed appropriately, creating peace and tension where it was needed, and made slower sections feel slightly less tiresome to progress through. My issue with the audio was its presence could have been more prominent and noticeable because, as it currently stands, some parts felt eerily quiet and didn’t possess the magnitude I would have anticipated. Also, the audio can be repeated so adding more music and sounds would have been received well.
- Possible endings | Each time you reach the end of your playthrough and successfully reach the end of Sowrdbreaker: Origins, you will be given an ending based on the choices you have made throughout the game. These consist of Hero, Killer, and Coward. Each ending type is required for the completion as well as to unlock NG+ God Mode (Immortality mode). I liked these as they show your playstyle during your gameplay and give you an idea of where you might be heading. My only criticism of these is basically that I would have liked to have seen more types, therefore providing more content almost effortlessly.
What we Disliked
- Low-quality writing | The thing which pained me the most with Swordbreaker: Origins was in fact the quality of the writing overall. It just comes across as incredibly improper and could have been written to a far higher standard. I often found myself skim-reading the text because, honestly, it was quite dull and simplistic in context and I didn’t feel it gave me a great deal of detail to comprehend. As there were repeatedly large blocks of text, it was quite monotonous to read through which was not ideal. I want to appreciate the writers’ effort and I do to an extent but for a visual novel, I can’t justify the dialogue and written content the game has to offer. It’s ultimately what half of the game should be built around so I was far from impressed with what I experienced.
- No manual saving | As I mentioned in one of my previous points, you have three lives before you have to restart. With this comes no ability to save your progress manually at any point. There is an autosave feature after each choice you make that can be continued from the main menu but this overwrites every time you make another choice. There is no way to start from a specific point on the map so I needed to remember my decisions to save my life to get to new content. I understand why manual saves haven’t been included as it would make the game significantly shorter and easier to complete but I would have liked some sort of checkpoint system after X amount of progress perhaps to make the constant restarts less tedious.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 1-2 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 4-6 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Swordbreaker: The Game, Henchman Story, and Interactive Visual Novels
With all things considered, Swordbreaker: Origins is an exceptional addition to the interactive visual novel genre and has plenty of opportunities, choices, and paths for players to enjoy in a world that is hectic at times. The quality of the writing does let the game down sadly but this didn’t stop me from enjoying all the content that makes up our Swordbreaker and his compelling journeys. Improvements could be made but currently, Swordbreaker: Origins keeps you guessing and ignites curiosity around every corner.
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!