Life is hard in the wasteland where the Scientist gets thrown in the middle of a war. His life was frozen in time, and once reactivated he kind of wishes he would be deactivated again. Not because of the lagging or technical glitches, but because of the repetitive quite boring missions that he has to endure for hours on end. Sure it is always fun to kill stuff, but when he has to run around finding scorpion 6 out of 6 it starts feeling contrived. All missions are handed out from stationary characters, and all demand you to kill a set number of enemies. Sure at times you also have to find a fragment or object found near the slain enemies. Return to the handler for a new mission, and get ready to spend some more time watching the Scientist slowly bashing the life bar out of the currently targeted enemy. The missions are really poor, and somehow the story is supposed to be told using the mission briefings.
Ok, now it sounds like Xenome Episode 1 is a proper yawn fest, but for some strange reason I played it compulsively from start to end. It took me several days as I got tired when for some reason the last enemy didn’t show up. This is because a set enemy patrols a set part of the map. If you wander outside this area you meet other enemies, and at times this creates a void where no enemy shows up at all. Too often this seems to be where the enemy I am looking for should be.
Battle is done by facing an enemy, and depending on the distance you get either long range or melee attacks. There are a number of powers that you both unlock by levelling up, and by buying from vendors if you have the correct blueprint dropped by an enemy. Once you have made sure that the scientist is attacking by pressing auto-attack the bashing goes underway. You can use the powers at any time if you have energy left to use. Once an enemy is dead you can usually find some dropped equipment.
The presentation in Xenome is quite impressive. Being a free roaming action RPG with cool visual effects it is at times hard to believe it is running on a mobile phone. There is considerable slowdown, and the game chugs at times even on the iPhone 4. It is definitely not breaking the game. The reuse of enemies is worse in my opinion, and I would have liked to see more variation in the attacks of the enemies. Most of them rush towards you, and then stand and trade punches until dead. The menus are rather boring, and a bit too dark for my liking. There are a lot of different weapons, and gear to be found. All of them look a bit murky, and a bit more imagination would be nice. Heck I sat around and drew cooler futuristic weapons when I was young than those found here.
The sound, and music are ok adding to the futuristic wasteland mood. You can also play your own music along with the sound effects.
Something I really liked about the rather big gaming world is the fact that there are Pingers letting you teleport around. This helps the game significantly, and alongside the well drawn map it makes navigation a breeze. Furthermore there is little to no need to grind, which I think is really good. On the other hand it becomes easy if you accidentally walk the wrong way, and grind by mistake. As long as you follow the mission structure you will not die other than if you manage to get attacked by 2 enemies at once.
Xenome Episode 1 is sadly missing the mark on a lot of points. The level up system is automatic, the cool weapons are only available for purchase at specific levels and there is no need to collect money to get good stuff. The missions are boring, and I would have liked to have minigames or some kind of vehicle to add variation and challenge. I look forward to Xenome Episode 2, and hopefully Nine Pound Studios will hire someone to create interesting missions tying up the story.
Xenome Episode 1 $3.99
Seller: Nine Pound Studios
Tested on an iPhone 4.