Wraithborne, a new hack-‘n’-slash offering developed by Alpha Dog Games and published by Crescent Moon Games, is now available from the app store. Featuring great graphics and enjoyable enemy-smashing gameplay, Wraithborne makes up for its short campaign by offering a journey that’s a lot of fun.
- Terrific graphical presentation and smooth, action-packed gameplay
- Soundtrack has brooding, menacing quality
- Controls are intuitive and easy to use, incorporating some gesture-based elements
- GameCenter integration provides leaderboards and nearly a dozen achievements to earn
- Movement joypad is a bit difficult to use to get character lined up properly for certain attacks
- Campaign is on the short side
Wraithborne’s storyline is familiar, describing a world that banished supernatural elements and enjoyed a time of peace that has come to an end now that the magical ones have returned. It is a bit tired, lacking any new twist or punchy details that would set it apart from similar titles. Of course, if you’ve come for the action, the lack of an enthralling tale won’t bother you in the least. You’ll spend your journey trudging through a variety of gorgeous environments and dispatching plenty of plucky enemies along the way via conventional light and heavy attacks with your oversized hammer, as well as through the use of magical attacks launched by tracing runes on the touchscreen. These attacks vary, giving you the ability to unleash instant damage within a small radius, perform a ranged stun attack, do multi-target damage, heal yourself, recharge mana, and more. You can equip up to 3 runes for your journey, each of which is upgradeable via purple gems that you find and smash along the way. The overall pacing of the game is good, though our hero could use a lighter pair of boots to put a little giddyup in his step. Enemies will keep you swinging for the fences, with some proving to be a challenge to defeat. Destroyed foes will occasionally drop health regen orbs and mana replenishments, which come in handy over the course of a level.
Graphically, Wriathborne utilizes the Unity Engine well, pushing some detailed and vibrant imagery that pleases the eye. Rocks and wood are fairly realistic, and the greenery is quite lush, too. The lack of a mini-map function or indicator to point you in the direction of your next objective did cause us to get a little lost at times, but with death only setting you back a short bit of progress, it wasn’t a big deal. The action is smooth and the game is easy to control. A floating joypad in the lower left corner controls movement, while buttons used for light attacks, heavy attacks, and blocking reside in the lower right corner. You can also dodge by double-tapping the block button, though this maneuver wasn’t as consistent as we’d hoped. Holding the block button will charge up a powerful attack once released, and other special maneuvers are available, as well as combos. Rune buttons in the top right corner require a tap to activate, bringing up an image in the screen center that must be traced to use. Though easy to use, we did have some issues with the controls, as it was a bit difficult to line up our attacks accurately. At times, we’d spend several seconds swiping at and around an object before finding the correct orientation in which to connect with it. It was more pronounced with the heavy attack, but remained a source of frustration throughout. An alternative control method allows you to tap where you want to move and swipe to attack. The soundtrack has a brooding, menacing quality that fits the game well, and the sound effects weren’t half-bad.
Replay value is good, as the campaign (estimated at about 2-3 hours to complete) is worth replaying and the Challenge Arena will pit you against endless enemies n an effort to climb the GameCenter leaderboards. There is also an achievement system with just under a dozen items to earn. The high-end graphics require high-end hardware, as several older devices (including the 4th gen iPod Touch) are rendered incompatible. A universal app fro $2.99, Wraithborne racks up a 4-Dimple score.