This arty game certainly has a distinct look, but good looks can’t sugar coat this disappointing RPG from Gamevil.
When we heard the description for this game that it would be an artistic RPG, our tongues wagged at the the thought of an Okami style game was finally coming to iPhone. So perfect is the touch screen for such a game. Imaging our disappointment then when on getting our hands-on with it that it didn’t live up to our hopes. This of course isn’t Gamevil’s fault, as they never once said this was like Okami, and so it was our own doing that knocked out excitement down to zero. However, that doesn’t change the fact that as a whole Vanquish is an extremely underwhelming experience.
Taking place in ancient China you play as a warrior who must hack and slash his way through soldiers and generals to reunite with his brother and deliver a carriage load of wives. I say hack and slash because that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing.
The game is presented in a quasi 2D/3D view of a scrolling level. Your warrior is on a constant gallop on horseback and as you approach enemies you pretty much button mash your way through them. However you can unleash power attacks by holding down your sword button to power it up. As you progress your sword is upgraded with more power and you also pick up various items which will unleash different power ups on the enemy foot soldiers. But for a game that is supposedly an RPG, the character and weapons customisation is pretty weak.
It really isn’t an RPG at all, as you don’t exactly feel that you are the character, apart from some branching paths in dialogue with the occasional character within levels, it’s pretty much a side-scrolling action game with deeper story. Even as a side-scroller it has it’s problems. You see while you do have some up down control of your horse, it’s still out of your control as it gallops on auto pilot past the scrolling scenery… and what control you do have is disorientating.
On the left of the screen is your analogue joystick, and on the right are two action buttons, one for your sword and the other as a dash action for your horse. These two work as you might expect, however the as well as the joystick moving your horse left to right and up and down, it also swivels the environment around your horse. This give a unique looking 3D effect but at the same time makes it hard to zone in on what you are attacking. Instead you simply end up moving your horse in the general direction of the enemy then blindly mashing the sword in a hope to dispatch them. Horse based enemies are a little easier as at least they tend to follow you, but even then you it can be hard to distinguish yourself from your enemy.
The levels themselves are pretty standard fare too, with a linear a-to-b journey culminating in a boss battle of sorts before moving on… and apart from some scenery changes and a ramp in difficulty, from start to finish it all tends to get very repetitive, not to mention a bit sore on the old thumbs.
What the game does have going for it’s unique visuals. While not what we had hoped for, the 2D sprites of the enemies are beautifully crafted in black and white pen and ink style, and the weapons effects when unleashed look great too. The 3D effect though, while clever, doesn’t do the game justice though, with the sprites of you and your enemy seemingly moonwalking across the landscapes, instead of giving the impression of being a part of it.
Gamevil surprised us with this game and not in a good way. It’s hard to see what they were trying to achieve. Hybrid does a much better job as a side-scrolling RPG, so one can only assume they were going for a more casual crowd. But even then it doesn’t do enough to grab you, even if the art-style does impress for the first level or so.
I can only recommend then that if you want style and substance, you should look to Gamevil’s other stylish RPG – Hybrid – instead.
Vanquish: Oath of Brothers is out now for $2.99