Die by the Sword (Windows)

ESRB Rating
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Evan Kerr (10)
Written on  :  Jun 03, 2004
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by Evan Kerr
read more reviews for this game


A decidedly different third person fighting game.

The Good

Die By The Sword offers a different style of fighting game compared to more traditional titles – it’s more like a medieval sword fighting simulation.

The unique (to my knowledge) VSIM control system is excellent fun. The numpad or mouse are used to direct your character’s weapon arm in any direction, and allows other movements such as blocking, extending and sheathing. Being able to manoeuvre your sword arm in any direction allows for an almost unlimited number of moves. With a bit of practice you’ll be decapitating those Orcs in one swing! There’s really nothing quite like taking on three or four monsters at once, swinging, blocking and dodging across a room… the sense of fighting is very real, as opposed to simply pressing buttons to activate various attacks. Great fun is to be had by amputating the sword arms of all your enemies, then watching them try to attack you with a severed stump (then try picking up the disembodied limb and beating them to death with their own appendage). For beginners, there’s a more traditional “arcade” control method.

The music and sound effects are excellent, especially the main character Enric’s various taunts and exclamations (“Ahhh… the other white meat…” “Ooh! Ow! Hot!”). They really add to the enjoyment and greatly increase the atmosphere of the game. As well as a “Quest” mode that sees the hero Enric proceed through level after level of caves and caverns filled with ever increasing numbers of monsters, DBTS offers an “Arena” mode. The arena allows up to four players to slug it out in a choice of four arenas and as a variety of warriors, from human fighters and diminutive Kobolds to the scary looking skeletons and the insanely powerful Ogre. The only thing missing is a choice of weapons…

The Bad

The plot of the Quest mode is pretty terrible. Enric’s girlfriend gets kidnapped by some rather ugly looking monsters and dragged off into some cave. Of course you have to chase after them and rescue your lass from some evil wizard type intent on taking a peek at her entrails. Thankfully this lack of compelling story doesn’t detract from the gameplay.

The AI at times acts with all the cleverness of a short-circuited toaster (which isn’t much). Jumping into pits of flaming lava, decapitating their friends with wildly swinging axes, less than ideal choices of combat moves (particularly the Orc’s “Turn-around-and-jump-backwards-onto-my-sword manoeuvre”) and occasional pathfinding issues detract from the realism, but not the entertainment.

Some players (like me) may find the single player quest a little too difficult towards the end (taking on three Ogres at once is a tad hard), but it does make it all the more satisfying when (if) you get past the tricky sections.

Oh, and i can't figure out the special move editor.

The Bottom Line

DBTS is a real classic. For me, the arena mode gives the game its longevity long after I finished the quest. Playing the arena mode, I can come back all the time for an hour or so of hack-n-slash hilarity. There’s always more you can try, with an infinite number of potential moves and several varied characters to choose from. And once you start playing over a network with three other players, you’ll never look back. I just wish they would make a sequel with better graphics, a good physics model and a choice of weapons... we can only hope.