Sword of Sodan Review

Sword of Sodan box art amiga

Side-scrolling gore fest to avenge the king and save the kingdom.

Story

In a once peaceful land, an evil necromancer named Zoras started to plot against the king who once banished him from the Northern kingdoms. Zoras summoned his evil minions and veiled the land in darkness and evil. With little effort town after town fell before Zoras. He finally killed the king with powerful magic.

Now, years later the son and daughter of the king has grown up and trained themselves in the way of the sword, vengeful and dedicated – and they have obtained the only weapon in the world that can harm Zoras – the sword of Sodan!

The Game

Sword of Sodan is a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up game. It is a brutal and dark slaughter fest from start to end. You play as either the hero or the heroine (your choice) and the goal is to avenge your father, the king, and ultimately restore peace to the Northern Kingdoms. The game is very linear – you walk from left to right and kill anything that comes in your way, with little or no options to avoid enemies. The game has some cruel and bloody details, such as decapitations and axes sitting in heads, gushing with blood. With the graphic violence and the eerie atmosphere, you could describe it as a game in the horror or splatter genre.

Content

The two characters you can play are virtually identical. They have the very same attacks, and their reach and speed is the same. There are three different attacks you can do. The regular straight-forward attack, which has the best reach, or the overhead attack which you’d use against flying foes, and the low attack, which you use against short foes. There are also different magical potions you can find randomly from defeated enemies. These can give you extra lives, increased attack strength, or an invulnerability shield for thirty seconds. You can only carry four of these potions at one time, and you can activate them whenever you want by pressing the corresponding F-key.

Swordofsodan4Apart from the few different choices this game offers, the game itself is very poor. Most enemies will walk into your sword automatically – you only need to be swinging at them until they walk into your reach enough times to die. Other foes however will have greater reach than you, and will use that to wear your energy-bar down.

The really annoying thing with this game is that certain enemies like the wizards in the castle can’t be overcome without taking a frightening amount of damage – their attacks simply cannot be avoided. There is nothing you can do except to use one of those invulnerability potions against their heat-seeking fireballs!

Some other really messed up things in this game are the barrels, flames and whatnot that are thrown at you on a regular basis. You must jump over these hazards or take a hit. Then there are huge lizards with scorpion tails that will take one third of your health-bar with one hit – as if the game wasn’t hard enough already.

The castle Craggamoor, where Zoras supposedly resides is filled with deadly traps. The spike traps are easy to avoid and even if you happen to walk into them, you only take some damage – but that’s not all. Upon reaching level two of the castle, a voice will announce “Beware of traps!”, and on that level there are pit traps which are completely invisible to you and will instantly kill you should you fall down into them! Then the game mockingly tells you to “Watch out for more holes!” – which of course is impossible, because they are so well concealed. That’s just unfair.

It is not often that games these days are as brutal as Sword Of Sodan. There is a boss character at the end of the city level which you have to decapitate in order to kill him. When you hit him enough times he will fall down on his knees – that’s when you must chop at his neck to send his head rolling. Certainly that helps set the mood of the game, but it is also quite a disturbing thing to watch.

Graphics

The graphics are nice and detailed but the sprites aren’t very well animated. The different levels all have their unique look and feel, especially the graveyard level which has a deep, creepy darkness over it. Other details that you might notice are the rotten corpses that hang off the catacomb walls and the horror film-style lightning effects. And even if the graphics look a little too much hand drawn here and there, it has a high standard.

Sound

More important to the atmosphere are the sound effects. The developers have put some effort into making the ambient noises somewhat realistic. You’ll hear birds chirping and grasshoppers buzzing. There’s also some music, but it honestly doesn’t do much to the game, save for the high score music, which is memorable. On the other hand there are screams and cries of the player character and the enemies that are disturbing, which of course further maintains the illusion of darkness, pain and agony.

Summary

No thanks to the many impossible traps and enemies that this game has, it’s almost unplayable. Sure you will find an extra life here and there, but that won’t help much. Your fighting skill won’t help much either – contradicting what the advertisement says about this game.

So this might be a legendary title thanks to its high level of blood and guts, but if you are looking for an enjoyable game, you might want to skip out on this one.

Developed By: Innerprise
Published By: Discovery Software
Version Reviewed: Amiga 500
Genre: Beat ’em Up
Players: 1-2
Also Available On: Mega Drive
Released: 1988

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