Monday, 17 July 2017

App Review No. 105 Infinity Blade

Strong Points:
Strong gameplay
Gorgeous graphics
An interesting story
Addictive, cyclical gameplay
Lots of weapons, armour and magic
Atmospheric music...

Weak Points:
Not always responsive when parrying
Some weapons are so ludicrous they take you out of the immersion
Having to change equipment to level up further, losing out on great passives
...Doesn't change contextually all the time

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: December 9th, 2010

Swipe Screen: parry/attack
Press Buttons On Sides: dodge
Press Shield Button: block
Touch appropriate icons to move through environment and menus

If you have an Apple device, there's a good chance you've played Infinity Blade, at one time the fastest grossing game on the App Store and showing that mobile devices can produce console worthy graphics and gameplay ideas. Once I got my new phone with 32gb of space, I decided now is probably a good time to complete the trilogy of Infinity Blades (after having previously played the first one and a bit of the second), as I have enough space finally. I've started again on the first one, and am really enjoying it.

The basic combat system of blocking, dodging and parrying attacks while waiting for the opportunity to retaliate is great for mobile devices and incredibly intuitive. After not playing for years, I quickly got back into the rhythm of parrying attacks to stun them for longer, blocking when a fist or foot comes out of nowhere and dodging when everything gets a bit much. Besides the occasional frustration when your finger swipe doesn't register with the parry you want, everything was going well and I even managed to take a sizeable chunk out of the God King before dying. And onto Bloodline 2.

This is where Infinity Blade's addictive, cyclical nature shows its face, as your descendant comes back to the castle around 20 years later so as to avenge you. How the armour, weapons and experience get transferred when your ancestors died and probably tossed away is beyond me but there you are, with everything equipped, ready to try again and hopefully get just a bit further. Rinse and repeat the cycle until you beat the God King and... Carry on doing the same thing even more. Yes, it does get a bit repetitive but go away for a bit and you'll find yourself drawn back again and again. Especially as you work out the mysteries of the Infinity Blade (there's also Arena and Survival mode to occupy yourself with).

Graphically this game is amazing, with crisp (for its time) textures, a great skybox, fluid animations and just generally console-esque. It's aged surprisingly well (it's getting on to be 7 years old), which is surprising given its focus on photo-realistic graphics instead of the more stylised (and timeless) graphics of Rayman Origins or World of Goo. Musically, the game is good, if not reaching the high levels of the graphics. A mixture of wonder and action make up the atmosphere of the game but they always seem to be at ends with each, the heavy action of the battle sections overlapping the gentle thinking of the walking sequences, not always to the greatest effect and making the music not always line up with what's happening on screen.

While the main gameplay elements are blocking, parrying and dodging, you also have a super attack, which basically gives you a free stun and magic at your disposal. Magic can do anything from poison the enemy to heal you and your shield (I'd always recommend having a ring with heal equipped) and is replenished at a fast-enough speed to make it useful but not always used. All weapons, armour and rings can be mastered (either using experience points or money), giving you more points to allocate into Health, Attack, Shield or Magic, making you stronger over time. The only problem with this system is that, to level up further, you have to equip a new piece of equipment which hasn't been mastered and put points into that. This is normally fine, but the new piece of equipment may not have the side effects you used with your previous equipment, which can make it quite frustrating - the most blaring example is when you don't have a ring with heal left to master, and you have to go by using health potions which are scarce.

Conclusion: overall, this is still one of the champions of the mobile game market and even 7 years later, still holds up incredibly well. Now, if only they could improve compatibility with newer phones!

Rating: 86%

P.S. Infinity Blade hasn't been updated for the latest OS's, and so plays in a letterbox format on iPhone 6's and above.  Infinity Blade has now been updated to be compatible with iOS 10's and iPhone 7's and below. Enjoy no more letterboxes!

Thanks for reading, Satamer.


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