You’ve seen the trailer, the preview videos, maybe you even watched the interview, but, you really can’t grasp how much fun Infinity Blade is until you’ve played this bad boy yourself. We’ve been playing Infinity Blade at the TouchGen HQ for over a week now, allowing me to play through 16 bloodlines, kill the God-King multiple times, and have even reset and beat the game from the beginning, using skill over brawn.
You know this by now, but it’s still worth mentioning again. The quality of graphics, sound, art, and combat is easily the finest on the iOS platform so far. It’s not better by a little bit, it’s better by a lot. Just as you were blown away by how good the Epic Citadel demo looked when you actually got it on your device; you will be similarly blown away when you fire up Infinity Blade. The Unreal Engine 3 produces some amazingly smooth polygons, and the art, sound, and gameplay have all come up to it’s level making an iOS experience that rises head and shoulders above anything else in the genre.
My review is not going to cover the details of item levelling, or finding gold, or how you cast spells. You already know all of that from the video and articles that have been published before now. So I’m going to try and focus on the things you don’t already know that make this game unique.
Now, before I get into what Infinity Blade is, let me first explain what it isn’t. During our video previews, the comments from readers have generally been the same. So let me make sure I clear it all up for you. Infinity Blade is not a free roaming, Elder Scrolls style RPG. There are no rat killing quests, there are no delivery quests, and there is no fishing. You will never roll for initiative, have to decide how long your character’s nose is, or need a 300 page guide to figure out how to play the game. Infinity Blade is not the “traditional” role playing game, and thank the God-king for that.
When ChAIR was given the opportunity to create an iOS game, they started with the device and built a game from the ground up. They didn’t take the traditional RPG model and shoehorn it for the iPhone, instead they took their idea and platform to create something unique. In a nutshell Infinity Blade is a sword-fighting Action-RPG. Levelling up consists of battling epic foes in real time battles that require timing, strategy, and skill to defeat. Like other RPG’s you collect items, level up to get more powerful, and find gold and treasure chests, but that’s where most of the similarities end.
The ground-up approach to the game design is apparent in every aspect of the game. You can pause at anytime during the game so you can pick up and play whenever you like. If your play experience is like mine where a child or some other life event distracts you from your tense battle with the Dark Knight, just hit the pause button, and you can restart the battle. You feel like the game is progressing too quickly, getting too hard? You can restart the castle from the beginning (while keeping all your experience, items, and gold), giving you the advantage you need.
Instead of focusing your valuable time on boring rat killing quests to slowly build up to leaving the town gates; in Infinity Blade you are dropped directly in the middle of the action right from the get go. The opening cutscene shows the God King killing your father with a special sword (the infinity blade) allowing your progeny to inherit your skills, items, money, everything. This is where the game begins. Now, 20 years have past, and you are approaching the castle to take revenge on the God-King for killing your father.
This concept of inheritance from one person to the next creates the framework for Infinity Blade’s unique gaming concept. To get from the beginning to the God-King there are probably less then a dozen battles, but unlike other RPG’s who use combat as filler in between story, combat IS the focus of the game. The first time through you are pretty much guaranteed to lose to the God-King, you will then come back in 20 years, your enemies will be more powerful, you will have collected some items, and levelled up, but most importantly you will be learning each enemies weaknesses and you will be learning how to exploit them.
Infinity Blade is the most pure RPG in the sense that you can kill the God-King the first time through if you are good enough, quick enough, know the moves, and can execute them perfectly, it’s quite possible to kill him with your base equipment at level one. In other RPG’s you could never do this as your outcome in battle is all about the numbers, like attack power, but in Infinity Blade, the skill comes from you, not whether you are a level 20 rogue. You are the person levelling up as you learn how to fight in the word of Infinity Blade.
Where the brilliance in the game design comes in is that it allows you to level up and get good gear to help make your efforts more effective while you are learning to play. This makes for a fun and interesting learning curve as you progress through the game. As you get better, the items get better, the enemies get badder, and your bad-assed knight is perfectly challenged as you play through the game. I have never hit a point where I felt like I was bored or grinding, instead I felt the game growing with me as I played.
At this point in the review you are probably expecting me to tell you about how the lack of free movement, and a massive world to explore make this game less than perfect, but you are not going to hear me say that about Infinity Blade. Instead of trying to give you a buffet of RPG experiences, they have crafted one of the finest morsels of gaming you will have experienced so far. They developed the game deep instead of wide. Does this mean Infinity Blade has nothing to criticise? No, of course not. The point I’m trying to make is that criticising Infinity Blade for not being like other RPG’s is like complaining that an apple does not taste like an orange.
In all Infinity Blade takes about 8-12 hours to “finish” but it will take you a lot more than that to master this game. There is plenty of content in Infinity Blade to more than justify the price, but if there was something I would like to see it would be more content. More enemies, levels, items, etc. Again, I feel the amount of content is excellent for the price, but when a game is as good as IB, more is always better.
There is another factor that keeps me from turning my nose up at Infinity Blade for not having 40 hours of content. That is ChAIR’s unnatural passion and devotion to bringing in more content. The game we are all getting on the 9th has been planned as only the first chapter in the series of the game. ChAIR has many updates planned that will add more items, levels, places in the castle to explore, even multiplayer; but, that’s not all.
ChAIR is also very interested in our feedback. The people who play it, and what we have to say about the game. They want it to be a game that continues to not only grow, but evolve as time goes on. This is one of the great things about the iOS platform that you don’t find in consoles. For this reason I’m confident that Infinity Blade will change as much as needed through updates to ensure they are producing the best game they can.
Infinity Blade turns the traditional RPG on it’s head, and although I admit that it may not be for everyone, for me it is one of the best game on the iOS thus far, and it’s just getting started.
Infinity Blade is out now for $5.99 for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPod Touch 3 (16 GB and above), or iPod Touch 4. Get it on the . Be sure to keep an eye out for nachorevolution on the leaderboards.
|Second opinion: Nigel Wood
The hype this game has generated is quite something. It’s exciting that the gaming community as a whole has sat up and listened to see what the iOS platform can do, which is what we have known and supported for the last few years since it’s inception.
Having played the game, along with Nacho, I love it’s approach of focusing on just a few elements of the RPG genre (sword fighting, levelling up etc) and making those elements the best as possible that the iPhone can muster. Whereas touch based slashing can seem as a gimmick in so many other titles, here it works brilliantly. And for the first time adds some true skill from the player, so that when you do reach and defeat the final boss you know you got there on your merit alone, and not just how much time and XP points you earned before you could hit an attack button and land damage like so many other RPGs.
On the discussion of free-roam versus on-rails, well, while I do think that adding it would be a cool feature, particularly if you could roam the castle and select any battle in any order, I do agree with Nacho that it really has no bearing on the true focus of this game, which really is all about the fighting. I’m sure a day will come where we’ll get the best of both worlds, but for now I’d much rather it be a master of fighting, than a jack of all trades. And that is thankfully what we get. For me, I can’t wait to see where and how this game evolves. The potential for multiplayer over Gamecenter is of particular excitement.
The bottom line is that for many of you, this game will not live up to the hype. We live in a age where everyone wants to know everything now. Heck, it’s why we run this site to deliver previews and reviews to quench your gaming thirst. But this does have a downside in that everyone then gets their own interpretation of how they would or want the game to be, even when they haven’t played it. If however, you are one of the lucky ones who have kept an open mind, then you will no-doubt love this game, and appreciate the unique gameplay and outstanding visuals all for the price of a movie rental.