Infinity Blade, the long-anticipated epic sword-dueling fantasy game from Chair Entertainment Group, is finally available from the app store. The first iPhone game to make use of the Unreal Engine 3 gaming engine, Infinity Blade features stunningly-rich graphics, outstanding animations, robust music, intuitive controls, and some of the most exciting action we’ve experienced on our mobile device.
Infinity Blade Pros:
- Hands-down best graphics and animation on iDevice to date
- Rich soundtrack and sound effects
- Responsive and intuitive controls
- Terrific sword-fighting action
- Lots of customizations and RPG-like leveling and inventory system
- GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and achievements
Infinity Blade Cons:
- A bit repetitive
- Cannot skip cut scenes
You play as a vengeful young warrior, looking to destroy the evil God King who killed your father nearly two decades prior. The God King resides at the top of a castle tower, with several of his henchmen guarding the path to his domicile. You must battle massive brute after even more massive brute until you come face-to-face with your nemesis. Battles play out in a turn-based/real-time hybrid, where you are free to attack at any time, but pacing yourself and reacting to your opponent’s moves is almost a necessity in order to make progress toward your ultimate goal. On the defensive side, you can dodge left or right when under attack, as well as use your shield to block by holding the screen. Parrying effectively is also a huge key to victory. Launching your own attack is as simple as swiping the screen, in the same manner as you’d slice bananas and watermelons in Fruit Ninja. Mixing up swipe directions creates devastating combos and mega hits. There are additional features that can give you an advantage, such as the Super Power button or the Magic button (which also requires a gesture-based swipe to determine the type of spell to cast), both of which can break your enemy’s momentum and open a window for you to unleash a can of you-know-what. It all plays out with a swiftness and force that feels tangible.
We reached the God King on our first playthough, at which point we were decimated quickly, almost shockingly so. No fears, though, as the Infinity Blade with which you (and your father) were slain allows your bloodline to retain and possess all of the experience and items that have been earned along the way. Decades later, your son attempts the same quest, replaying battles with each enemy to avenge your death. This cycle continues until you finally send the God King to his grave. The action is interspersed with cut scenes of both sides squaring off, as well as breaks where one party is knocked for a loop or sent stumbling. The kill animations are terrific, driving home the superiority of one being over the other, rather than allowing a battle to end on a cheap swipe or anticlimactic moment.
As you make your way from beast to beast, you’ll see items in your environment, such as coin sacks and chests. You collect the items and open chests by tapping on them. All of your equipment contains the experience of battle, earning you XP that occasionally allows you to level up and apply points to various attributes, such as health, attack, shield, and magic. You gain better equipment as you progress in the game, either by finding new items or purchasing them with the gold you collect. You’ll want to do this from time to time, as your equipment can max out on XP, resulting in the forfeiture of future XP unless you upgrade. Of course, the maxed out equipment also offers a bonus, so you’ll need to decide which to use. The system felt a little confusing at first, but with repeated exposure, it became clearer.
Graphically, there really isn’t anything in the app store that holds a candle to Infinity Blade. Perhaps someday, but not today. The level of detail, the lighting and shading, the complexity of character models, the clarity and the crispness, it all meshes beautifully to create a world that not only looks amazing, but feels alive. Battle sequences place health bars for both characters at the top of the screen, with chargeable stun and magic buttons under these. Dodge buttons are in the bottom corners of the screen. There are no movement buttons, as you are fixed to the same point and only progress outside of battle by tapping the blue circles to appear in the new location via cut scene. As you upgrade your weaponry and armor, your character’s look changes accordingly, which is a great visual touch. Money sacks tend to blend into the surroundings, so there is a need to randomly tap around and see if you happen upon anything that you didn’t notice. Character voices are garbled audio, meant to represent a foreign fantasy language. Subtitles clue us in to the discussion. The soundtrack is brooding, giving way during battles to the clanging, grunting, and heavy breathing associated with your ferocious encounter. A recent update has also given us the ability to play our own music, if you’d rather duel to Metallica instead. The controls were very effective and user-friendly, though we had the tendency to miss the dodge buttons, as they are tucked very low on the screen. We’d like to see a mechanic where you’d need to touch anywhere at the extreme right or extreme left of the screen to dodge, rather than hit the corner buttons. You can also swipe the screen outside of battle to look around and marvel at the surroundings.
Replay value is pretty good, despite its repetitive nature. There is no roaming whatsoever and it’s just sword fight after sword fight with the same enemies, but there is something about it that just keeps us playing. The dev team is committed to updating the game, as a recent update has included a new enemy, more swords, more shields, more helmets (including a Christmas-themed antler helmet), and an increased leveling cap. They’ve also mentioned wanting to add even more enemies, opening new areas of the castle, and even adding multiplayer, which would be simply amazing. GameCenter integration offers leaderboards for total victories, level, and total gold, as well as nearly 50 achievements. For $5.99, Infinity Blade is a tremendous value, easily taking the 5-Dimple crown.
Infinity Blade Review,