(Slightly) Old Video Game Review: Infinity Blade (iOS)

Here comes another mobile game review.  Infinity Blade is an old game for mobile phones, but one of the games which convinced me about mobile games becoming a serious contender against handheld games.  Infinity Blade, developed by Chair Entertainment, dropped onto the iOS on December 9, 2010 and made me consider getting the iPhone just for this game (but I didn’t, I got the Samsung Galaxy S4).  I’m sad Infinity Blade was not released on the Android platform because every gamer needs to experience Infinity Blade.

The gamer starts out as a warrior who sets out to defeat an evil tyrant.  You set upon his castle and fight your way through all his minions, collect items, gain experience points, and face the main baddie himself.  The game is relatively short, but that’s just one play-through.  Infinity Blade brought gamers a different concept that works wonders for mobile/handheld specific games.  Spoiler ahead!  Skip to the next paragraph if you never played Infinity Blade before.  Okay, it’s not that much of a spoiler, but the gameplay requires you to play through the same game over and over again, until you beat the main boss.  The game recycles your dead character into a “descendant” of the original character you had, hence the player fights through the castle again.  Technically, you can beat the game on one try, but since you are new at the game…that is highly doubtful unless you just have a immense talent for playing games.  There are also two endings you can make at the end of the game, but I won’t spoil it that much for you.

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Infinity Blade is an RPG set upon a medieval fantasy world.  The gameplay requires fast finger swipes and attention to detail.  Infinity Blade is similar to Myst on how you roam in the game, a point and click – or tap in this case – to choose between paths, collect treasure, and reach your destination.  The battles are one-versus-one and you can dodge, parry, attack, cast magic, and defend.  Your character has HP (hit points) and MP (mana points) that do not replenish after each battle.  There are health pots you can find in treasure chests or enemies drop the item, but are rare and should be used sparingly (you will know why as you play the game).  This requires you to concentrate on each fight and learn how to dodge and parry attacks.  You can collect or buy new weapons, armors, and spells to increase your chances in winning each battle.  As you fight through more minions, you will gain experience and points to increase your character’s stats.  Pretty typical RPG elements, outlined simply and brilliantly for mobile games.

The graphics are what impressed me at first.  I never knew a game like this can look so damn good on a phone.  I grew up on playing Snake on a Nokia and the transition to some beautiful, almost PS3/XBox 360 quality graphics are mind-blowing.  The characters are finely detailed as the world comes to life on the small screen.  The enemies are well designed and uniquely animated.  The world felt real as the player roams the outer and inner parts of the castle.  Chair Entertainment squeezed every bit of juice out of the iPhone and it shows.  They did one hell of a job showing what mobile gaming can look like and what it can do for gamers.

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The graphics were definitely a high point, but the controls is where this game really shines. Mobile games (especially on a smartphone) can’t have many controls or buttons or else the screen is full of cluttered buttons which your thumbs will inevitably tap on the wrong button.  Infinity Blade kept it simple.  They went to the basics of all handheld gaming controls and kept it as simple as possible.  Nothing distracts gamers from the game.  No unnecessary buttons, pop-ups, and – best of all – no ads.  I commend the developers for sticking to the K.I.S.S. rule – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

The music and sound effects are limited thanks to the speakers on the phone.  Even through headphones, the game can only produce enough distinct sounds to keep the player from distinguishing attacks and whatnot.  There is very little dialogue and thankfully you can keep the original Japanese dialogue – it just sounds so much better.  With headphones, you do get to hear the sound department much better and it bodes pretty well compared to…say…a 3DS game.  The sound department isn’t going to win any awards, but for a mobile game it definitely did the job.

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The game did get a little frustrating at times because the touch controls seemed they would disobey your orders randomly.  Plus, some enemies have some freaking cheap moves.  The sound again wasn’t the strongest department as well, but for a mobile game it kept my criticisms to a minimal.

Infinity Blade was one of the biggest mobile games coming out at the time.  There was nothing like it, especially when it came to graphics.  The gameplay was smooth and engaging, all thanks to the controls.  Even after all those years has passed, the game still shines not only as a mobile game, but as a game in general.

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I believe Infinity Blade showed the game industry that mobile devices can harbor hardcore games.  It paved a way for future mobile games and expanded on the notion that mobile games are going to be one of the biggest ways of getting more people to play games.

Rating: 9.1/10

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