Swords and Sandals takes the form of a game within a game, allowing you to enter a tavern and join a board game in which your character takes control of a gladiator that travels across the board entering into mini-games of various format along the way. The format is certainly non-traditional, and the action unfolds by simply rolling a dice and moving the appropriate number of places each go. You will encounter battles, obstacles, and rewards as you move across each board. Your progress in the game is enhanced with the ability to upgrade and control your character’s attributes/stats as well as the weapons and items that he carries.
The game can be split into two noteworthy elements: the battles and the minigames. The battles in Swords and Sandals 4 are in the turn-based format that the series has always used, requiring you to face off against the opposition on the other side of the screen by using the on-screen controls to attack or taunt your enemy. You can use a quick, medium, or ferocious attack, each with different probabilities of success. The arena battling in the game is really about building up your stats in order for them to be superior to your enemy, since it is really only the numbers that matter in the battles with the attacks you perform only really being as powerful as your stats make them.
The other notable aspect of the gameplay that is encountered on the board is the ability to enter into minigames . These games are usually very basic in format and are simply there to allow you to earn extra gold and honestly just to pad the game out a little bit. The game also has a multiplayer feature where you can enter into the turn-based battles against online opponents, though this is only really for the hardcore fans since you must spend a lot of time building up your character beforehand in order to even stand a chance against your seasoned opponents.
Swords and Sandals 4 is a refreshing game whose format borders on the meta, being layered in such a way that you are playing a game in which someone plays the actual game that you wish to play. The graphics are noticeably inconsistent with polish in some places and rough edges in others (the battles are an example of this), but the gameplay is solid enough to keep you interested for more than just five minutes. It isn’t a par on the wonderfully simple earlier titles such as Swords and Sandals 3, however.