In Story of a Gladiator your unnamed gladiator arrives in Greece in pursuit of his destiny; becoming a champion of the Roman arena. To accomplish this undertaking, he’ll have to defeat twelve waves of fighters, with each wave getting progressively more difficult, with more fighters crowding the small arena floor. The difficulty spikes come from the varied enemy types and weaponry: swords, spears, shields that slam, all of the enemies wearing different armor depending on their speciality. The goals (besides beating the other gladiators , of course) are to three-star each stage, amassing as much XP and money as possible.
The money gets you advantages in the form of armor, better weapons, and buffs. With each level gained, your gladiator unlocks shops and other structures where he can purchase blessings, medicine in the form of food, and eventually a trainer for a pet, all of which will help you in the arena. Other assistance comes with each rank up. A new level grants an additional point used to purchase a skill or a skill level-up, which fortunately can be adjusted before each fight, allowing for different tactics depending on the enemy types and weapons you’re facing.
As the complexity ramps up, so does the XP needed to advance and the amount of gold needed to purchase better gear. At first, it’s not terribly taxing to level, but eventually things stall. You’ll have to invest more of your time re-fighting the same arenas in order to grind out the XP and gold needed to progress, only to repeat the process.
In itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some beloved games – Diablo for example – make this grind a central part of the gameplay. However, because the settings aren’t varied enough to punch up the grind, Story of a Gladiator felt like a slog the further I headed towards the showdown with the boss end stage, especially knowing that Greece was only the first of three cities (the other two were Carthage and Egypt). All told Story of a Gladiator consists of 36 stages over three cities.
In addition to the enemy types the game also ups the number of enemies that you’ll encounter on a given level. With gladiators rushing, swinging swords, shooting spears, and moving all over, the arena takes on the atmosphere of a shoot ‘em up. It was just as important to know where I was and how the enemies were tending as it was to kill them. Although there are small opportunities to heal as a (hopefully) delighted crowd throws fruit into the arena, Story of a Gladiator is a fast-paced game of attrition. If a level wasn’t cleared, I saw the amount of XP and gold awarded to me drop to a small fraction of what I could’ve earned on even one-starring, and that in turn meant more grinding. Despite these flaws, I still enjoyed Story of a Gladiator, although as I progressed further into it my enjoyment waned unless I gamed in shorter bursts; it just got too monotonous otherwise.
Story of a Gladiator has an attractive pixelated presentation and has the cool concept of fighting in the arena. It’s a blast and only overstays its welcome in the later stages when progression stagnates. I recommend jumping in with both sandals.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.