Having only recently bought an iPod Touch, I'm not immediately familiar with all of the games available on the device through the App Store. I'm aware of Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and other simple puzzle games along with the myriad of adaptations of console games. However, I was not prepared for a game like Infinity Blade. The game is indeed gorgeous, but it also fits perfectly into the mindset of an iOS game, that being to get in a quick bit of fun in between your daily life. The difference between Infinity Blade and other games on the iOS is that it boils the core console experience down to the bare essentials and puts those at the forefront.
The story of Infinity Blade begins with a lone warrior confronting the God King, a tyrant who has made life for the surrounding lands miserable. This warrior is completely outmatched and quickly killed but years later his son comes to pick up his quest. The game is an endless cycle of revenge with each warrior being a descendent of the previous one and retaining all of his levels, stats, and equipment. It is an incredibly barebones story, but it works. There is enough intrigue to see this tale to its conclusion and discover what happens when the God King finally falls. When the cycle continues even after that, most players will addicted to the combat and loot grind by this point and continue the endless game.
Infinity Blade is the first on-rails sword fighting game that I have ever played. Players can look around the area around them between fights to find hidden potions, money, treasure chests, and alternate paths, but the game always marches forward from sword fight to sword fight. Thankfully, the fights are the real star of the game. While at first it may seem easiest to hack away at an enemy, effective play demands a wait and react approach. Players can block with their shield, dodge blows, or parry attacks but each requires its own form of judgment. With the shield, you must keep an eye on its wear and tear and just how hard your opponent is swinging. Dodging is also tricky with it necessary for you to dodge toward sword strikes and away from physical attacks. Parry attacks are the most difficult with you having to swipe in the opposite direction of your foe's attack. It's all about reading your opponent and choosing the best countermeasures against them. You are not limited to only these options though as a super move is available as well as a variety of spells.
For the most part, the combat works well. The biggest problem I ran into is that sometimes my motions were not translated the way I wanted. I'd try to parry an attack and end up dodging or do a downward strike and have it register as raising my shield. Spells are also affected by these gestures. A fire spell requires a circular motion but it kept translating as a lightning spell which is a bolt glyph. It doesn't kill the experience but certain battles can become immensely frustrating. The rest of the game revolves around the loot and leveling system. Each piece of equipment in the game has an experience value. The experience earned from fights is then pulled from this equipment until it is mastered. Once mastered, the equipment will give you a point to increase your stats. It's a great system that encourages players to use every item in the game to not only level up but improve their stats. It's this system that will keep people playing well after they defeat the God King the first time.
In terms of the graphics, one look at the game and your jaw will drop. The game is without a doubt one of the best looking handheld games I've ever seen. There's an incredible attention to detail, and the style is reminiscent of classic sword and sorcery worlds. I don't need to go on about it as most people are well aware of what Infinity Blade has achieved. Of course this feat is mainly possible due to the limited interaction with the world though most players won't be too bothered by that. The biggest problem is that you'll likely see everything there is to see within two attempts at the God King. After that, it's the same scenery over and over. What helps break it up is the revolving cast of enemies to duel. They range from simple swordsman to giants to mechanical golems. There's a great variety here that the level design lacks. The music mainly sticks to ambient tracks with grander songs reserved for the duel with the God King. Sword strikes and parries sound good and overall the sound design is pleasing if forgettable.
At six dollars, Infinity Blade is a great piece of mobile gaming that offers more than just pretty graphics. The game really makes you feel like you're in a duel to the death and trains you to look for any little opening you can find. Some may get bored with the game's repetitious nature but fans of the loot grind will love it. Everyone else should at least check it out.
Note: This game was reviewed on a 3rd generation iPod Touch
Developer: Epic Games,Chair Entertainment
Genre: Role-Playing, Action
Release: December 9, 2010
Available On: iPad, iPhone
Cut the Rope - Love it
Angry Birds - Like it
Borderlands - Like it