“Infinity Blade” Review: Sharp and Shiny

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Infinity Blade
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Chair Entertainment
Systems it’s available on: iPad, iPhone
ESRB rating: N/A
System reviewed on: iPad

Ever since the iPhone became a sudden, explosive destination for handheld gaming, developers from all walks have tried to capture the kind of hi-def gaming experiences that consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3 offer. The iPad in particular, with its big screen and robust technical specs, seemed perfect for a console-like experience but most titles aiming for a multifaceted playable experience have missed the mark.

Infinity Blade, however, doesn’t miss. The action-RPG title developed by Chair Entertainment and distributed by Epic Games cuts deep, with sharp focus and responsive gameplay. Players control a series of medieval warriors who journey to a vast castle with the hopes of assassinating the evil God King. The mystical despot makes short work of you though and the bulk of the game is spent trying to level up your skills, weapons and magic over the course of successive bloodlines of your descendants.

Going back to the God King’s castle, you’ll face off against all manner of hellish giant trolls, steampunk killing robots and demonic assassins. Part of Infinity Blade‘s charm is the way it updates old-school mechanics. The touch-based controls make the pattern-based boss battles and statistical fetishism of yore feel fresh. But, more than that, Infinity Blade nails the action aspect of the experience. The controls are simple and contextual: tap on the lower corners of the screen let you do a timed dodge and swiping lets you strike with your sword. Yet, you never feel like you’re watching canned animations; the sense of control comes across as immediate and gratifying. There’s also something about the mano-a-mano nature of the game, too. It’s only ever you and the pug-ugly standing in your way and that tight focus keeps you captivated. This feels like as much a swordfight as the stick-and-button inputs give you on a PS3 or 360 game. (More on Time.com: ESRB App Lets Parents Read About The Violence in Video Games)

However, my favorite thing about Infinity Blade is how the cutscenes double as hidden object puzzles. When your warrior walks through the castle, you’ll see bags of gold or potion bottles strewn throughout and tapping them will add them to your inventory. It’s a grat tweak that keeps you engaged during moments when most games lose your attention.

Most impressive, too, is the way that Chair harnesses the powerful Unreal Engine on iPad. The lighting and textures look damn near better than anything else (with the possible exception of Rage HD by id Software) and the animations execute swiftly and fluidly. Technical aspects are one thing, but Infinity Blade excels by virtue of simple yet addictive gameplay. Once you start playing it, you won’t be able to put it down.

Official Techland Score: 9.1 out of 10

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