Within twenty minutes of Infinity Blade, you’ll have seen all that there is to see, and done all that there is to do, and in spite of this, it’s one of the best games around on a mobile device or otherwise. It’s taken three years since the original iPhone’s inception, but there’s finally an app on it that gamers can consider to be prefixed with the word “killer”.
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Unlike most games on the format that have tacked on virtual buttons, in Infinity Blade, you utilize the screen in the way it was meant to. This means you’d be swiping and tapping your way to glory, or vengeance rather. Infinity Blade puts you in the armour of a knight looking to avenge his father’s death. In order to do so, you have to set out to a nameless castle and defeat the God King and his minions responsible for Knight senior’s demise.
As mentioned at the beginning, you can coast past the game’s early enemies and duel with its main villain. However you’d be greeted by defeat before you know it simply because a twenty minute knight is no match for a seasoned God King. So each time you die, the game fast-forwards to two decades later and has you in the role of the fallen warrior’s son, determined to avenge his father’s death. When you die, a new bloodline arises. This cycle continues till you put a halt to the God King.
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If you think about it, this entire bunch of able-bodied men could do better with their time than sacrifice their lives in the name of revenge, making the sheer seriousness of the premise quite hilarious. But you’ll soon realise that there’s a method to the madness. Each bloodline starts with all the loot, weapons and stats that his predecessor died with, making the grind a whole lot easier. Also, enemies remain varied and unpredictable, causing more havoc with each playthrough. They level up just as you do and come in varied classes, such as assassins, golems and trolls.
The gameplay consists of sword duels interspersed with minor exploration across the castle. While you have absolute control over your moves in strictly one-on-one swordplay, skulking around the area is restricted to tapping at parts of the screen to receive items. Combat has you swiping at enemies with your sword. With a swipe in the right direction and correct timing, you can parry attacks or just tap your shield to block them outright. The game will tell you when you’ve broken through the enemy defence, on which, you can proceed to make your iPhone a finger-print magnet by swishing away at your foe for maximum damage.
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It’s a terse waiting game that’s extremely gratifying, and if you get your timing right, you can get by with barely a scratch. If graceful swordsmanship isn’t for you, you can indulge in a super attack. A tap of a button (when your super attack gauge is full) unleashes an unblockable attack that renders your opponent dazed, giving you some time to land some normal attacks or magic (accessed by drawing symbols) for maximum damage. The controls are very intuitive and make your progress of trial and error a lot of fun.
In addition to this, there’s a store feature, which allows you to buy new swords, shield and magic rings to master. Mastering an item gives you a point to level up one of your stats – health, magic, shield or attack. Character progression has the same pay off; levelling up grants you two points to spend on stats. This system adds an RPG-like layer to the game, which will have you trying all sorts of weapon, armour and spells in order to max out your chances of defeating the God King. It’s not heavy enough to keep you locked away in menus, neither is it too light to be deemed frivolous. It’s just enough to balance out the frenetic battles and equally important if you want to wrap up the game with minimal fuss.
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There’s a variety of sound effects, from voice-acting at key moments in a language that’s semi-comprehendible (complete with subtitles) to shield blocks. And there are haunting bits of music too. It’s all very well done. Plus it looks fantastic, which you probably already knew since this is the flagship title for the Unreal Engine on iDevices. There’s Game Center support, with achievements and leaderboards too. Add in free content update packs (one is out and more incoming) and you’d wonder if this really is a game made for a portable device.
However, the game isn’t without it’s minor faults. The story is as plentiful as Ricky Ponting’s current form, making it very spartan affair. And yes, it’s meant for iOS devices only. Also, some might find the repetition a tad painful.
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All said and done, this is one must-have title for every iDevice owner and is well worth the price of admission. You’d be hard pressed to find a better game on the format.
PS: Glad to know I got through this review without making a joke about Infinity Blade’s repetition. Glad to know I got through this review without making a joke about Infinity Blade’s repetition.