Developer: Chair Entertainment
Publisher: Epic Games
Genre: Action RPG
Hours Played: 10
Progress: Defeated the god-king and completed 8 bloodlines
We all love having that game that totally shows off the graphical prowess of your system, the one that epitomizes what next-gen gaming is all about. It is rare however to associate any such games with a platform like the iPhone, but Apple’s ubiquitous phone is no longer a fledgling gaming device and no stronger example exists than Epic Games’ new title Infinity Blade. Read on to find out why…
Infinity Blade starts the player off by putting him or her in the shoes of a nondescript knight who makes his way through a looming castle by taking on a variety of imposing armoured enemies before making it to the throne room of the “god-king”, a fearsome warrior granted inhuman powers from his sword, the infinity blade. As solid of a warrior as you are, you’re no match for the god-king and by plunging the infinity blade into your abdomen he drains you of your essence and adds it to his own. Two decades later the son of this fallen knight returns vowing vengeance and so the cycle continues.
Every time you make it to the god-king’s throne room and perish, another twenty years go by and you assume the role of the offspring of the last warrior you controlled, thus starting a new “bloodline”. This if where Infinity Blade‘s addictive nature comes in as every new bloodline brings stronger opponents and more money and experience to further upgrade your warrior. You can deck out your character with a variety of equipment including swords, shields, helmets, armor and rings, each with their own abilities and bonuses. In addition to this you possess stats like attack, defense, life and magic, which can be upgraded by leveling up. You gain experience by defeating enemies and what’s interesting about this process is that experience goes not only toward leveling up, but also toward “mastering” your equipment. Once a piece of equipment has been mastered you gain a skill point which can be used to increase one of your stats. Once one of these has been mastered however, the player can’t gain any experience from this stat and so less experience is contributed towards leveling up your character. As a result, you’re constantly encouraged to buy new equipment so that it can earn experience for upgrading your warrior and mastering the item so that you receive additional skill points. Of course you’ll want to continue in an upward trend, which means buying better equipment than you previously had equipped. This costs gold however, earned by defeating enemies or finding it scattered throughout the castle. This is where Epic Games hopes to make some extra cash as the App Store allows you to purchase extra gold, helping you in being able to acquire higher-end equipment a lot faster. I am not a big fan of the option to “buy” your way out of a tight spot, but microtransactions of this kind seem to be the norm on the iDevices these days.
Infinity Blade‘s combat system is interesting as it combines blocking, dodging, parrying and striking with swipes of the finger. Your character and opponent face off in a “pitched battle”, meaning that the player doesn’t have to focus on moving around their character, instead your attention is fully devoted to watching the attacks of your opponent. Sometimes it is better to parry a blow and strike an exposed area on your enemy, sometimes blocking with your shield is the only way to avoid being hit. Alternately you may be able to dodge an attack altogether, without taking any damage. Blocking is limited by the block counter at the bottom of your screen, it is pressed to enable blocking with your shield and shows how many blocks you have left. Once your life bar is depleted you can restart the castle from the start or re-do the last battle you fought, the life bar can be replenished with health potions or magic. In addition to magic attacks you’re also able to perform a “stun move”, which leaves your opponent helpless for a short time. The magic and stun gauge are replenished by performing successful attacks. The combat can often feel like a strategic chess match and is extremely engrossing. A nagging issue however is the responsiveness of the touch screen, at times it doesn’t recognize a finger poke intended to employ a block or a magic attack; sometimes a directional swipe intended to parry a blow can be misinterpreted causing unnecessary damage to your character. This certainly isn’t a game-crippling issue, however it can be annoying at times.
The visuals in Infinity Blade undoubtedly take center stage. Epic’s Unreal Engine is employed in bringing the characters and environments to life and the gorgeous textures leave no doubt that Epic’s graphical prowess was fully utilized. This is an absolutely gorgeous game that wouldn’t look out of place running on a current generation console. Some tricks are used to make the game look as good as it does, even though the player can look around the environment from a 3rd-person perspective, all the camera angles are fixed, allowing Chair to control what the player sees and how they see it. The game also isn’t very long, which is my biggest gripe against it. You’ll typically only face about 8-10 opponents per bloodline meaning that there is a lot of repetition. The “gimmick” of repeating the levels by starting successive bloodlines, fighting stronger enemies and upgrading your gear only goes so far in providing variety.
Chair Entertainment truly pushes the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect from the visual capabilities of the iPhone, Infinity Blade simply looks gorgeous. Not only that, but it is extremely addictive and lends itself perfectly towards brief pick-up and play sessions, precisely what we want from mobile gaming, though we can’t help but deduct some points for the relatively thin amount of gameplay content and lack of variety. You’ll have seen all there is to see within an hour or so but regardless, Infinity Blade is a great excuse to whip out your iPhone and show your friends the graphical abilities of this mobile powerhouse.