Infinity Blade Review

By on January 9, 2011

A small but highly entertaining action title.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Over the graphical achievements, gameplay innovation and just all-round impressive package, Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade has also managed to answer a very desperate question that has always lingered our minds: “How does a player come back after he dies in the game?” It’s a pretty odd way to start a review, I know, but that question has always plagued my mind, and Infinity Blade has been the only game (that I have played) to answer it maintaining the context of the game.

So, you see, your goal in Infinity Blade is to reach and defeat the ‘God King’ of a castle while mowing down his endless barrage of monstrous minions on the way. If you die – and let me completely assure you, you will – instead of just reloading from a previous checkpoint, you are actually reborn as the character’s son, who has all the experience points and equipments intact, and the process repeats till you finally manage to level up and overthrow the initially unbeatable God King. It’s an amusing concept but it just works perfectly with the game.

The innovation doesn’t stop there, and Chair may have also answered, or rather tought how an action game can be possible on a button-and-stick-less device such as the iPhone. When you enter a battle, which swoops the camera down to give a cinematic view of the fight, you are only required to attack, dodge and parry attacks with none of that clunky camera and character movements to bother you. It’s simply genius: you swipe left to right, or right to left to swing your sword in that direction. You dodge an attack by simply pressing the side of the screen to sidestep; and parry attacks by matching the direction of the oncoming attack. The combat maybe a bit slow compared to the wam-bam offered in other games, but it ensures you take every battle seriously, every enemy you encounter is a mini-boss in itself, and the epic quotient in each fight is, well, er, epic in proportion. It’s complex and brilliant, yet so intuitive and simple. But it’s not easy, it may have a small learning curve, but it will require hours upon hours to master.

The game also throws in a bunch of RPG elements as well – though let me readjust your idea if you ever thought it was: Infinity Blade is not an RPG. Role-playing games have large maps, more characters you can count on your fingers, tons of quests and scantily-clad females with funky hairstyles. Chair’s game has none of that, but is an out-and-out action title. The only RPG-ness this game has are the numerous weapons, equipments and magic spells that you pickup from dead bodies or purchase them via the in-game store. Each weapon and equipment gains experience points the more you use it, before its maximum limit is meet. Whereupon you are encouraged to try another weapon, with lesser or more benefits, whatever, which keeps the freshness, and the style of fighting regulated. Magic attacks come in quite handy – they leave the opponent dazed and defenseless, letting you hack away at them for a brief period of time. The magic spells available include fire, ice, shock, poison, heal and shield boost. To cast a spell, you tap the magic button and then draw a shape on the screen that corresponds to the spell you want to use. The game is fine tuned to register spells correctly, so you won’t be annoyed with it casting another spell you never intended to use.

While we had a blast playing through Infinity Blade, there are some major drawbacks that kept us from giving it a higher score. For one, the game does get quite repetitive – when you die and come back, years and eons after, the castle is still the same. You will have to go through the same rooms, doorways, bridges and arenas again and again. And also, once you beat the God King, there is absolutely nothing else to do. It almost feels like Chair were just testing the waters by showcasing the tech and gameplay innovations, and have reserved their level making resources for bigger things to come.

The game also feels a bit shallow, there is nothing you can interact with, nothing you can feel, or relate to. You cannot control the character either, but rather click on glowing blue orbs to move from one point to another. It’s one of our major gripes as the game is just so drop-dead gorgeous, the lack of camera controls leaves us no room to inspect different angles while we drool. The level of detail for an iPhone game is staggering – the character models, the shadow effects, the lighting system, the glimmering water under the punishingly hot sun, everything falls together like poetry, and leaves us mesmerized and hooked the moment the game is turned on. What a marvelous achievement.

Infinity Blade may not be revolutionary, path-breaking, or genre defining. But it slaps the developers on the head and teaches them the only way to make really good games: by being creative and using a bit of brains.

The Scorecard
Developers now have a standard to meet. This is how a game should be played.
Choppy frame rates aside, Infinity Blade is eye pleasing beautiful, and thee best looking game on the iOS.
There isn’t much of a soundtrack but the game mutes itself to focus on the sounds of the battle: sword clashing sword, armor crashing armor, spirits ignited in an epic battle of skill and power.
The game relies on difficulty to prolong the game. And once completed, the game has nothing to offer either.
Attack, dodge, parry, cast spell, hack and then finally jumping on top of the beast to rip its eyes out. Oh yeah, plenty of fun.
A technical showpiece, more than anything else, on how little bit of creativity can make simple, entertaining and innovative games. Only if it had been longer!


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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