Sword Daughter
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Follow Tyrna the Sword Daughter on a quest that might lead her to vengeance, treasure, glory, death or even love in this adaptation of the original gamebook. Although short, the 22 different endings add a lot of replay value and the game is worth it for the beautiful art style alone. It is a little heavy handed when it comes to romance and some of the story elements definitely shows their age, which is no surprise as the original gamebook was released way back in 1984. Despite its flaws the game is still quite enjoyable and well worth checking out.

Gameplay: The story is straightforward, but has plenty of branching routes and a whopping 22 different endings.

Graphics: The fantasy artwork might not be very animated, but it is quite beautiful.

Sound: Not many tunes, but the ones on offer are very good

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Sword Daughter

Developer: Hanabira | Publisher: Hanako Games | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

A trip through the desert to take part in the Warrior Games ends in tragedy for Tyrna when her group is attacked by orcs. Her father is killed and the rest of the caravan is taken captive, but Tyrna escapes a similar fate thanks to her magical cloak. Luckily for Tyrna an elven ranger named Gavin is in the area and the two quickly team up for an adventure.

Most players will be familiar with the Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy titles, but they were not the only gamebooks around at the time. Sword Daughter is actually a licensed adaptation of a gamebook published in 1984 by Rhondi A. Vilot Salsitz. The author has published over 50 books and stories, so she definitely knows how to spin a decent yarn. Like recent gamebook adaptations, such as those by Tin Man Games, Sword Daughter features full sound and visuals to complement the original story. The result is that the game has more of a visual novel feel, especially as it doesn’t feature any combat, stats, inventory management or anything else beyond the story.

Since the original book only had 205 pages it doesn’t make for a very long game, but there are a total of 22 endings which bolsters the replay value. Some are good, some are bad, some are very unusual and there are even a few that end with the death of the heroine. Early in the game Tyrna meets up with an elven ranger and his horse who accompanies her for most of the story. Gavin quickly becomes a romantic interest, but the whole romantic subplot feels a little heavy handed at times. It also feels like Gavin dominates a bit too much of the story during certain paths which leaves less room for Tyrna to shine and live up to her title. Of course, this game was written during a different era, so it should be expected that some aspects of the story will feel a little archaic. There are also a couple of paths where she has the opportunity to prove her mettle, so obtaining all the endings are highly recommended.

As with other gamebook conversions you read the story of Sword Daughter until you are presented with a couple of choices representing a fork in the tale. After making your choice the game will either end or continue with the story. Some of the endings are rather abrupt and sometimes what appears to be a simple choice can lead to a whole separate story branch. However it only took me about three hours to uncover all 22 endings, so this is definitely not a title for players who only plan on playing through it once. To avoid repetition you can quickly skip through any previously read text and the game also has a handy section map which allows you to jump to any point in the story. The section map also indicates the explored as well as unexplored choices, so you can be sure that you won’t miss a thing.

Sword Daughter features some beautiful fantasy artwork and while there are very few animations I really liked the character designs. You’ll encounter all the traditional fantasy regulars such as orcs, bandits, trolls and even a dragon, but the excellent art by Kim Sokol ensures that they still look great. The backgrounds are also pretty decent, but rather limited. Considering that the artist, Iacocca Khen, had to work within the confines of the story, which itself is mostly set in a desert and some caves, the result is still pretty good. Because the game art was designed for a display of 960×640 I unfortunately had to put up with black borders when playing with a full screen resolution of 1920×1080.

The game doesn’t feature any speech, but this didn’t really bother me much. Character voices are great for visual or kinetic novels, but for a gamebook such as Sword Daughter where you spend a lot of time replaying scenes to select different outcomes it would only have become annoying. The audio is rather nice, but with only about eight tunes can feel a bit limited. The game does feature some very good sound effects to make the whole experience more immersive. I also appreciate the fact that the music and sound effect volume can be adjusted independently. Since your only interaction with the game is clicking through the text and making the occasional choice from a list of options I didn’t have any issues with the controls. In fact, you can even play the game using a joystick, although it is probably not recommended.

The whole fantasy/romance setting is probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found the story of Sword Daughter to be enjoyable enough. Some of the plot elements feel a little clichéd, but one has to bear in mind that the original book is more than three decades old at this point! The lack of combat also means that the game feels a little less action packed than comparable title, such as The Forest of Doom from Tin Man Games. Anyone who fondly remembers the original gamebook will have fun with Sword Daughter and the game is priced affordably enough that even with its short length there is value for money. One can certainly do far worse for an evening of entertainment.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP or later
  • Processor: 1.2 Ghz
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 150 MB available space
  • OS: 10.4 or later
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 150 MB available space
  • OS: x86 or compatible
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 150 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Note: 32-bit compatibility libraries required on AMD64 and x86-64

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