Unveiled as an Unreal III tech demo for iOS platforms, Infinity Blade is a multi-faceted game that spans both the action as well as the RPG genres. It’s also highly ambitious in its production values, delivering gorgeous visuals on the iPhone with much aplomb. Sadly, it’s bogged down by an insane amount of repetition that prevents it from becoming an instant classic.
The bane of your existence in Infinity Blade is a dude called the God King. Now this guy has been a pain in the backside not just for you, but for your entire lineage. You start off the game as one of your forefathers who finds himself on the wrong side of the God King’s sword within minutes. You respawn nearly twenty years later as his descendant who vows revenge. You make your way through the God King’s minions and are about to avenge the death of your father when he - owns you in about two swipes. Wait, what!?
Who you calling horny mate?
He got lucky you say? So you spawn once again twenty years later, repeat the same grind only to die by his sword yet again. Nope, this isn’t a cruel joke; this is the weird and highly repetitive progression this game employs. Due to this, a normal gameplay session in Infinity Blade would go something like this - Spawn, kill ‘x’ amount of grunts, navigate castle, find God King, kill his minion, confront him, die and repeat ad nauseaum. Every time you die, your descendant respawns with all the experience and equipment you’ve gathered in your rather brisk adventures. Now I understand the fact that combat and visuals take precedence over plot, but this sort of monotony is just plain stupid.
Unlike most conventional action games on the iOS platform, you don’t really control your character using a virtual joystick. But then again, Infinity Blade isn’t a conventional game to begin with. Even though it is part action and part RPG, it is a highly linear fare. Like most old school point and click adventure games, the areas you can visit are denoted via a glowing outline. Tap them and your character will progress in that direction be it to enter a new area or search a nearby chest for some gold. During this time the camera pans out to give you a panoramic view of the game, showcasing the raw power of the Unreal 3 engine. Now this is an engine we’ve grown tired off on the PC and the consoles but on the iPhone, it’s breathtaking. Granted there’s a bit of a slowdown on the 3GS, but other than that everything looks phenomenal.
So a duel to the death then?
Once the game’s visual allure mellows out, monotony kicks right back in. Even combat which seems really exciting at first tends to drag on as it is practically the same in every enemy encounter. The game boasts of a fairly robust combat system where players furiously slash their enemies to death using their fingers a la Fruit Ninja. You can parry attacks, dodge them and lay some counter attacks but most of the inputs will feel and look the same. Weaken an enemy enough and you’ll end his existence in a rather cool yet violent finishing move. Once again, this seems awesome at first but gets stale after you’ve killed your 100th enemy the same way. Also not helping matters is the fact that you’re rooted in a certain amount of space during the encounter. You can move a bit to the left or right but beyond that, it’s all about blocks and counter attacks.
Upgrading your arsenal and powers is yet another integral part of this game. The upgrade system in Infinity Blade is something RPG veterans will be right at home with. You can sell your old stuff, buy new shiny stuff and pimp their stats to increase damage significantly. Tweaking your character’s attributes is also an important facet of the game. Would you rather be a slow moving tank, or a weaker but faster warrior? Either way you’ll have to keep boosting your abilities before you go up against the God “I-can-kill-you-in-one-swipe” King.
Vengeance will be mine - someday
Infinity Blade is a visual powerhouse that can provide players with some highly addictive gameplay but like I’ve mentioned multiple times, it gets insanely repetitive and follows a very weird narrative. If you can look past that, then by all means go for it as it is one of those games that really showcase the power of the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.