The Sword of Etheria
|The Sword of Etheria|
PAL version cover art
|Developer(s)||Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, Hack and slash|
The Sword of Etheria is a hack 'n slash, role-playing video game developed and published by Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo. It was originally released on June 30, 2005 for Sony's PlayStation 2 as OZ (Over Zenith) オズ (Ozu?) in Japan, and as Chains of Power in Korea, then released on February 24, 2006 in Europe. The game was not released in the United States. On January 26, 2006, the game was re-released as a "Konami the Best" budget label.
The Sword of Etheria takes place in a strange world where humans, gods, and spiritual beings known as "Katenas," coexist. Katenas are powerful warriors with the ability to encase themselves in full suits of armor called "Lexes." The Katenas are the envoys of the gods, and the gods' three greatest chosen Katenas are known as "Oz."
Both humans and Katenas are overseen by the gods. Similar to Greek mythology, the gods are omnipotent beings who are ambitious, self-serving, and power hungry. The gods consume various kinds of light in search for more power, and thus cast parts of the world into darkness for centuries. The gods seek to destroy humanity, and in their efforts to do so they drain the planet of its energy source called "Etheria."
The story begins in medias res (late in the story), with three Katenas, Cain, Leon, and Almira, on a mission to investigate a physical appearance of Etheria on the world's surface. As they approach the apex of their mission, Almira and Leon lose control of their armor, forcing Cain to proceed alone. Cain vanishes afterwards.
The game shifts forward fifteen years later to Fiel ("Feel" in the Japanese version), an orphaned boy who has grown up alone with his younger sister, Dorothy and their cat, Toto. One day, their village is attacked by monsters called "Volo" and a group of Katenas. Dorothy is kidnapped during the process. Fiel manages to recruit the aid of Almira and Leon, and together, they head out to rescue Dorothy. During their journey, they constantly face danger and obstacles under the eyes of the gods.
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The story revolves around the three characters: Fiel, the male main protagonist with an axe, Almira, a female Katena with a spear, and Leon, a male Katena with a large claw on his left arm. Their mission is to save Fiel's sister, Dorothy, who was kidnapped by monsters. Dorothy's cat, Toto, has the ability to transform into a Lex and becomes the source of Fiel's Katena powers.
Throughout the game, the protagonists fight three other Katenas, Vitis, Galumn, and Juju, who are under the influence and control of the gods.
The Sword of Etheria is presented in a third-person perspective, with players navigating the main character, Fiel, to interact with objects and people. Players control Fiel during battle while Almira and Leon are AI-controlled. The three characters fight through various environments, including forests, villages, and dungeons. Each character is assigned a health gauge. If a character's health is reduced to zero, then he or she will be incapacitated and forced to recover before they can return to battle. Drawing inspiration from the beat 'em up genre, the game's combat style revolves around performing combos on enemies. Enemies can be launched into the air to perform juggle combos, and players can call upon the aid of their partners for additional hits.
The game also features a "tension gauge" on the right side of the screen. This gauge indicates the player's level of performance with combos. The gauge increases by chaining aerial combos and decreases as the player's momentum falls. When the gauge is filled, the player can perform a powerful "deathblow" attack, combining the party's forces to deal extensive damage to enemies while reducing the tension gauge. The gauge can be extended by proceeding through the game, which allows the player to use even more powerful attacks. At its highest level, 3, a filled gauge will display the text "Over Zenith," signifying to the player that the strongest deathblow can be performed.
The Sword of Etheria's storyline is divided into chapters, and each chapter features multiple endings depending on a player's actions. For example, an alternate version of the game's ninth chapter is playable when certain requirements are met. The story diverges a bit as the three main characters are similarly portrayed as characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Fiel as the Tin Man, Almira as the Scarecrow and Leon as the Lion. There is also an additional unlockable story where Dorothy is playable as the main character.
The game also features an option for characters to change costumes. These costumes can be purchased during gameplay and resemble cameos from various Konami games, including Suikoden III, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and Silent Hill 3.
Many members of The Sword of Etheria development team also worked on the Castlevania and Suikoden series. Director and producer Junichi Murakami directed Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow while composer Michiru Yamane worked on the music. And Fumi Ishikawa designed characters for Suikoden II.
The Sword of Etheria's music was composed by Yamane and arranged by Naoto Suzuki. The game's soundtrack was commercially released in a two-disc format on July 20, 2005 in Japan. The soundtrack features an arranged version of the song Polovtsian Dances performed by Martha Matsuda, which is played during opening sequence of the game. A remixed version of the song was featured in another Konami game, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2, along with footage from The Sword of Etheria.
|The Sword of Etheria|
The Sword of Etheria received mediocre reception upon its release in Europe. EuroGamer's Simon Parkin called the translation of the European release "disastrous" but praised the combat as "extremely rewarding" although "repetitive." PALGN's Jeremy Jastrzab commended the use of the game's music and "stylish and unconventional presentation" but made note of the poor environments, saying that players are usually "surrounded by either dull corridors or barren landscapes."
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- "Sword of Etheria Review - EuroGamer.net". EuroGamer. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
- "The Sword of Etheria Review - PAL Gaming Network". PALGN. Retrieved February 9, 2013.