Leinhart is in a bit of a pickle. Deep inside a Dark Shrine he has to escape the constant flow of attackers. Thankfully he has a flying one eyed monster to talk to, and get tips from. Together they venture forth through angry rabbits, nasty devils and ugly bosses. Will they ever be free again to walk through the fields, a horned devil and his one eyed monster Bomo Jing.
The controls of Dark Shrine remind me a bit of those found in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS. Initially I actually hoped it would be the same kind of deep story-driven experience. Sadly though Dark Shrine is more akin of Samurai: Way of the Warrior for the iPhone. A hack n slasher moving from short level to another short level. The other game it reminds me off is definitely Dungeon Hunter.
Leinhart follows your finger, and movement is quite fluent and responsive. Enemies are expatiated by swiping across the screen, and if Leinhart is facing them they will fall. A lot of times he shadowboxes in another direction with the enemy standing dumbfounded. That is until it realises that Leinhart will kill them once his dance is over, and they start attacking him in the back. These control issues comes from the camera behaving a bit erratically. The levels are indoors, and to be able to see anything the camera pans around. A minimap is available, and I find myself using it for all of my navigation. It shows enemies, and I assemble a couple at a time to kill before looking at the main screen.
The RPG elements of Dark Shrine are limited to upgrading Leinhart when it comes to health points, spell points and four different spell types. No abilities to upgrade, but at least there are some weapons and armour to collect. Using the spells is really easy as all you have to do is tap one of the four spell buttons at the bottom of the screen. Next to the spell buttons are health and spell circles. These show how much of them you have left, and to use a potion to refill them simply tap the circle. This is a really clever way of handling health, and potions that many games would benefit from using.
There is a story to Dark Shrine, and after the introduction movie it is told in written texts depicting the dialogue between Leinhart and Bomo Jing(one eyed monster) The latest update fixed a word wrap issue making it easier to read the story.
The presentation is quite good with cool enemies, nice indoor wall textures and good magical effects. It isn’t as polished as the games from say Gameloft, but it is hard to demand from a collaboration of two indie studios. Glitches occur, and at times the camera shows them clearly. The music is bombastic RPG fantasy music, and I find it both suitable and enjoyable. Sound effects are kind of weak, and there is no voice acting to be found.
Dark Shrine offers many hours of hack n slash linear action. It is not a role-playing game, but rather a quite limited brawler with the odd RPG element. I think that there is definitely players out there that will enjoy themselves thoroughly playing Dark Shrine. There aren’t that many action RPGs for the iPhone, and if you enjoyed Dungeon Hunter definitely give Dark Shrine a thought whenever you feel an urge to kill some trolls. Oh, and you get to befriend a yellow one eyed monster in the process.
Dark Shrine $4.99
Seller: Mobiler Corp.