Dungeon crawlers have been around for quite some time now, and now one of the games that started it all has entered the App Store. Sword of Fargoal dates back to 1982 as it was released for Vic 20, and a year later for the Commodore 64. It stood out as one of the first games featuring random dungeon, and it created the rogue genre. Now 27 years later it is totally revamped for our pleasure, and we get a chance to die horribly somewhere deep in a creepy dungeon.
Sword of Fargoal is the object you need to find, and according to lore it is found 20 levels down. Using staircases, and teleports you have to traverse traps and no less than 28 enemies. A bit of grinding is important, as you need to level up to stand a chance. Thankfully grinding is fun due to being done while exploring. You can also sacrifice your gold at the temple squares to gain experience. There is so much dungeon to explore with broken walls, and hidden passages all over the place. But never take it too easy as enemies chase after you, and you can all of a sudden teleport to a level below with much harder enemies.
You choose the name of your hero, gender and roll dice to determine health and skill levels. You can tap to roll the small dice until you get a good combination to give your character the best possible chance of survival. On the character creation screen you also have your dead rogues, and you can see which level they reached before perishing to the vile enemies.
The controls are all touch based, and you just touch and drag in the direction you want your hero to go. Tap and drag to run. When you encounter an enemy simply swipe in the enemy direction to attack. The battle is automatic with the combatants clanking along until someone dies. You can of course withdraw if you see that you will fall in battle. At the left of the screen you have your inventory with potions and scrolls. Just touch to use health potions when in danger of becoming a not so memorable dead hero.
In the lower left corner you have the map, and it is quite useful to see staircases and temples for navigation. When you reach a chest, staircase or anything else you can interact with you get a button in the top right corner to perform the action.
Sword of Fargoal is a highly polished game combining great fog of war, dungeon graphics and lighting effects with a nod to the original with unanimated characters. I really love the style, and the walls of the dungeon have some depth making it all feel like you are really deep beneath the ground. Pinch in and out to zoom in and out in the game to find a perspective that is most suitable to the situation.
The sound of Sword of Fargoal is perfectly executed with several layers of piano and soft classical music, ambience and sound effects. At times I have had to remove my earphones to locate the music playing just to find it coming from the game. The sound of the fanfare when you encounter an enemy can be turned off but I prefer it to be on. You can play your own music if you turn off videos, and turn down the game music and sound, and restart the game with your own music playing. Overall though the sound of Sword of Fargoal is absolutely brilliant.
The replayability of a rogue game is more or less infinite as dungeons are random each time you play. Having only one life is also something I really like, as it adds a bit of caution to the gameplay. It’s not like a game like Gangstar where you can blow your car up while flying through the air landing in a river just to turn up at the hospital in the very same clothes. In Sword of Fargoal you die horribly, and there is no remedy. Create a new hero, and avoid going to the third floor when you are only a level one rogue. There is a lot of lessons to learn, and relearn that you don’t have infinite lives like in Ravensword where you get both a nice bed and a meal when you magically wake up from the dead.
What I miss in Sword of Fargoal are new weapons and equipment. There were none in the original but I would really love to fool around with an inventory filled with axes and swords. It is therefore somewhat shallower than the other noteworthy rogue game for the iPhone, Rogue Touch. According to the developer there might actually be some weapons included in the next update, I am stocked to find out. Still I find Sword of Fargoal to be a more polished experience that is really fun in the long run. I have no trouble creating a new character once the game is over. In Rogue Touch I gave up after having killed two heroes. Perhaps it is because Sword of Fargoal is less deep, and I don’t care as much about my hero when I don’t get to customize more than name and gender.
If you want a fun rogue experience I can fully recommend Sword of Fargoal. It is polished, has loads of gamelife and you can win $500 if you manage to be the first to actually find the Sword of Fargoal giving quite a lot of incentive to find it.
Sword of Fargoal $2.99
Seller: Fargoal, LLC