Reviews

Infinity Blade Review

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.

tg-badgegoldYou 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.

ib11Now, 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.

ib21This 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.

ib31In 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.

eds-choice
5-stars

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 Infinity Blade - Chair Entertainment Group, LLC. 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.

4pt5-stars_sm

TwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksDiggStumbleUponShare
  • Austin

    Hopefully, the partial on rails gameplay won’t take away from my experience.

    Than again, you did give it a perfect score and another near perfect score. Well… will see :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/kuangeleven Kuang

    I’ve yet to play the title so will refrain from speculating and leave that to the excellent coverage above, but I do have a comment to make on the rail debate.

    The same criticisms faced Goichi Suda’s bizarre yet strangely compelling Killer 7. The gaming community were up in arms over the revelation that character movement would be on rails, without having played it to see what the impact might be. In practice it worked perfectly, using a single button to move back and forth along the tracks and choose between routes. It became obvious that process of walking between rooms was purely functional, and there was no need to allow free roaming.

    What the developers did was to identify something that wasn’t essential, get rid of it, and then use this apparent restriction to focus the gameplay in more exciting ways; knowing exactly where the player would gave gave rise to some superb set pieces that came to define the Killer 7 experience.

    The problem with iOS and Android gaming is that we have technology that’s matured far more quickly than the inherent new control paradigm has been accepted. Developers are still trying to find ways to do the same old things in spite of the platform, and the design language required to make sense of these devices hasn’t yet caught up. As long as gamers criticise daring attempts to radically change the ways games play, the incentive to to it well just won’t be there. ChAIR and id get this and are prepared to go out on a limb to get people to switch their brains on and see potential rather than limitations, and I think we should all stand behind them for doing so.

  • japonlindo

    I think you shouldn’t take future updates into consideration when reviewing a game. Basically a game should be completed when it’s released, and should be reviewed in a current build.

    With that said, it’s a great review. And thank you for posting it so quickly.(first decent review worldwide?)
    Personally I’m so glad IB isn’t a typical Elder Scroll type RPG because we will have Aralon next week.

  • http://twitter.com/nachorevolution Nacho Andrade, USA

    Brilliant comments Kuang, I couldn’t have said it better myself. @japonlindo, I did not take updates into consideration, as it is the game is very deep. The enemies change and even evolve fighting strategy as you go down blood lines. Infinity Blade is 5 stars as it is with no updates.

  • Legend.inc

    It is sooooo awesome :)

  • lukwtwz

    Essentially this review apologizes for not apologizing for the game being a “gaming morsel” with a long-winded entertainment structure. Punch-Out would have seemed lame if one kept getting resuscitated into a more pumped-up state afer losing and faced differently-abled foes afterwards.

  • lukwtwz

    By the way, shouldn’t professional reviewers abstain from GC for a while, given their early access?

  • http://twitter.com/nachorevolution Nacho Andrade, USA

    The game center access we have is on a different server as it is a ad-hoc build. I’ll be starting fresh when I buy the game tonight.

  • Muffinheadicus

    Im getting ready to play the game right now as I am typing this.

    The way you guys described this game is VERY much what Capcom’s Monster Hunter Series is at it’s very core essence. If in fact that is what this game is, then not only is this game brilliant, but it’s also a ‘game-changer’.

    Developer’s if you are reading this, PLEASE take cues from the uber successful, Monster Hunter game when creating new add-on levels, weapons, armor, items, spells and glorious spell effects, and most importantly, MONSTERS!

    From what i’m reading here, it seems you have nailed the ‘true skill’ portion of that mechanic. Now, give us the feeling infinite and/or VARIETY in EVERYTHING we can buy and own for our characters. There need to be hidden/rare items and plot/side paths on the road to the Godking.

    Flesh this game out to the point where the quest is seemingly endless.

    Thank You!
    Muffinheadicus

  • http://twitter.com/nachorevolution Nacho Andrade, USA

    Monster Hunter is one of my all time favorite games. That love translated right over to Infinity Blade. I spoke about it’s similarity to MH a bit on our last podcast.

  • Bryden

    I’ve played it, and don’t worry, there is still quite a bit of gameplay here, despite the on-rails thing.

  • gh3ry0n

    Just bought it. And already an absolute fan of it. ‘cuz I think I was expecting exactly what the game was meant for : a fighting game. Many gamers thought it was going to an Oblivion-like (free roaming, open world & so on), while devs had obviously hinted everyone at what this masterpiece was going to be.

    This game is awesome. Period. It has no equivalent on any other device. This is a masterpiece thanks to its gameplay, graphics and above all to its concept.

  • Chris

    I hate to be a bearer of the negative but the game looks like rubbish on the iPad. While the iPad has a slightly large resolution than the current gen iPod touches, it has a more powerful version of the A4. The game has no bloom lighting,and because of this the game really suffers. What pops as detail in the iPod version looks flat and pixelated on the iPad with no definition. I am very disappointed in the iPad version of this game and I hope chair could give us a reason as to why they had to do this.

  • http://twitter.com/nachorevolution Nacho Andrade, USA

    Sorry to hear it, I only saw and played the game on iPhone 4.

  • phoenixgenesis

    Thank you for your excellent, spot-on review. I am usually extremely cheap in my iTunes purchases, but I didn’t hesitate for a second to buy Infinity Blade for its $5.99 price tag. The little bit I have played thus far simply blew me away (and this was right after playing Gameloft’s Eternal Legacy for 2 hours). With headphones on, the sound is truly exceptional, from the effects to the music. The graphics are almost PS3 quality and I’m only playing on an 64GB iTouch 3G. But it is the gameplay that really drew me into the game like a magnet. I felt drawn not only into the world, but into the heat of the moment of battle, as if I were a real knight fighting some terrible foe in a mythical Camelot. Of all the games in my iTunes arsenal, this one felt refreshing and polished beyond belief. With Dungeon Hunter 2 out and Aralon around the corner, we needed something “deep” not “wide” as the first reviewer stated. If zero content were added, I would still feel like I got my money’s worth. A must buy game.

  • K1ite

    Chris is correct about the iPad version of this game. I do enjoy the game however but the game just doesn’t look the same as the iPhone version which is jaw dropping gorgeous.

  • Matt

    this is an awesome fighting game, you versus cool enemies with your own skill. Knowing this better now multiplayer should be awesome. cant wait to fight you all

  • Xstra

    I absolutely adore this game the combonation of sword fighting and rpg is perfect. The only things I want is a LOT more enemies and places to go and the ability to have better offensive attacks. The combat system is focused only defesive counter attacks elimitating all offense.

  • Justin

    This game looks amazing but really sucks. I played it for a solid 20 minutes and am already sooooooooooo sick of it.

    I think the game is not worth $5.99. It’s only worth 1.99. As a gamer, I was actually insulted to find out how pointless this game is. The lack of depth and story line makes it one of the worst games out there.

    This game is more pointless than angry birds. At least with angry birds there are different levels.

  • John Sisco

    Infinity Blade is AWESOME, i cant wait for the updates…the only thing i have a problem with is the leveling system if your gear is maxed then u just wasted that amount of exp for ur overall level but i do see that your gear evolves giving your overall a level and the fact that it doesnt matter what level you are…but i say again AWESOME GAME!!!

  • TheGooch

    >If however, you are one of the lucky >ones who have kept an open mind, then >you will no-doubt love this game

    Trust me, someone can have an open mind and not like this game. Blanket statements like this leads me to distrust what the reviewer. It’s like saying “if you are cool, then you will buy this game!” lol.

    Overall, both reviews were good, but they seem apologetic. “it’s not like game ” Don’t care. What are the pro’s and con’s of the game? How does it fare in categories such as:

    Visuals – How does it look? Colors, character details, etc
    User interface – Flexible, intuitive,etc.
    Storyline – Does it suck you in so that you forget you are playing a game? Would it make you miss the bus/train/your wedding ?
    Gameplay – Is it fun or tedious.
    Difficulty – Does it take long to get proficient at it?
    Length – Is there much to it?
    Performance – On the recommeded hardware ( 3GS, 4, iPad ) , how smoothly does it play?
    Cost – Is is fairly priced, priced to match the hype, or a complete rip off?

  • gh3ry0n

    As an answer to TheGooch…

    * Visuals : best ever seen on iOs ; console quality, trully amazing

    * User interface : strikes, dodges, blocks & magics are dealt by swipping across the screen ; very, very responsive

    * Storyline : this is a pro & a con ; altough damn simple the concept is original : you’re a warrior who’s trying to kill an evil overlord ; but this one is trully powerful, and should you get killed, it’s your son (and then your grandson, and so on) who’ll have to do the job, wearing your battle-hardened gear (the level of each piece of equipment -they gain XP through fights- is what define your own level)

    * Gameplay : IB is NOT an oblivion-like ; this a fighting game ; as such, gameplay is awesome (getting from one fight to another is done by clicking on your next destination, instead of a Street Fighter-like loading screen) ; you’ll have to give all you’ve got to win each fight, from the beginning where you’re lacking xp & stuff, thus stats, to the advanced state of the game -when it’s up to the grandgrandgrandgrandgrandson of the original to act- where enemies have become damn powerful & nasty (they fight in a more evolved manner at higher level)

    * Difficulty : well tuned for at first fights are quite forgiving, what they aren’t anymore when you’ve advanced a lot

    * Length : that is one debate ; at first glance, it’s trully short : after ten (average) fights, you reach the God King (“final boss”) ; but the game was made to never trully end : if you die from any monster (except god king) you’ll have the opportunity to restart your trip (at the level and with the gear you had when you died) or to load the previous checkpoint (restart the fight), but when fighting the God King, everything’s different. If you die, the god king finishes you, and it’s up to your son (19-25 years later) to get to work (it’s called “starting a new bloodline”, the son being equipped with father’s gear and having the same stats). If you win… well, don’t want to spoil (if there’s still anyone to spoil here ^^), but be sure the cycle will go on. So yes, you’ll keep on walking the same path each time, but through gear upgrading, grinding and so, there’ll always be a good reason to play.

    * Performance : iPhone 3GS (not the 3) & 4, iPad & iPod touch 3 & 4th generation. I play on iPod touch 4, the game is always smooth (no lag, no crashes so far)

    * Cost : 5.99$, it’s worth its price… to me. Just don’t expect a sandbox RPG, or even a RPG. This is a fighting game, with some RPG elements, not the opposite.

  • Thefunkhunter

    I agree with thegooch’s comments an absolute horrid review by both touchgen reviewers. Not enough detail was given to make me want to go out and buy this game

  • Jon W

    Disagree on it looking poor on the iPad. Looks amazing to me, and to many of my gamer pals. I played this game for a good 5-6 hours after purchase.

    Great fun and a watershed moment for iOS.

  • http://www.ontheedgeapps.com Austin Morrow

    Stats:

    Sword: Infinity Blade
    Shield: Gnash
    Helmet: Royal Helm
    Armor: Helio Armor
    Ring/Magic: Ring of Fire & Ice

    This game is like Heroine times 10. Who cares if it’s on rails, I have completely forgotten. I always look around everywhere for gold before moving on.

    Also, how do you defeat the Deathless Kings. I’m at level 45, already defeated the God King 7 times, it’s so hard to deafeat them though!!!

Podcasts

Comments

Tweets