When I first saw screenshots of Swordigo, I was sceptical about the game’s quality. They make the app look clunky and boring. Thankfully, I still purchased the Zelda-like adventure platformer and quickly discovered its brilliance. Swordigo is a lengthy 2.5D whirlwind with a well-balanced difficulty curve, excellent touch controls and heaps of variety. I’m hooked.
The game puts you in control of a blue-haired apprentice as he attempts to track down a legendary sword, which might otherwise be destroyed by the evil Corrupters. The storyline is bland, but works well as a vehicle for the gameplay, which is the app’s real focus.
As you adventure across a whole spectrum of different environments, you’ll encounter enemies to kill, platforms to navigate and puzzles to solve. To do so, you use the game’s fairly minimal touch controls: buttons on the bottom left of the screen allow you to move left and right, whilst those on the bottom right make your character jump, swipe his sword or cast a magic spell. All of the buttons are well spaced and react quickly, allowing precise control. If you don’t like how the controls are arranged, they’re also fully customisable. You can move all of the on-screen elements to suit your preferences.
Despite its limited combat options - sword swiping and spell casting - you’re unlikely to tire of Swordigo’s combat system. Swords can be upgraded and new spells unlocked, expanding your offensive abilities as you progress. Over the course of the game you’ll come across a wide range of different enemies, each with different attack patterns, meaning that you’ll have to develop a number of different offensive tactics in order to survive. From spiders to skeletons to weird spinning balls of grass, you’ll constantly be surprised by what you come up against. Occasional boss battles add to the game’s sense of variety, with threatening-looking bosses popping up to really test your combative mettle. Killing enemies gives you experience points with which to level up your health, weapon wielding or magical abilities, enabling you to cope with the tougher enemies that surface as you progress through the game. This RPG-style XP system adds yet another layer of depth to the gameplay.
As with the game’s combat system, its platforming sections are varied, littered with hidden areas that encourage exploration. In these areas, you’ll often find treasure chests brimming with experience points or soul shards, the in-game currency. You can use soul shards to purchase new weapons, health potions and so on. As the game progresses, your platforming prowess is put to the test more and more, with different obstacles and enemies standing in your way. Elements of puzzling are also introduced in the form of boxes to carry, switches to flick and more. Level design is of a consistent high standard, ensuring that you’ll want to keep playing.
One minor issue that I have with the game is the placement of portals, the game’s checkpoint system. Although they are generally evenly spaced throughout the environments, I found that these checkpoints were occasionally a little too far from tough enemies. Resultantly, you might end up replaying small sections of the game three or four times before managing to reach the next portal. It’s not a major issue, but the possibility of having to replay more difficult sections of the game several times does kill its pace a little – the level design doesn’t lend itself to being replayed.
Overall, Swordigo is very difficult to fault. Its graphics might be a little clunky in places, and the story somewhat bland, but none of that stands in the way of the app’s compelling gameplay. The game contains a clever combination of platforming, combat, puzzling and RPG elements, providing massive amounts of content for the tiny price of £1.49. It more than deserves a place on your iPhone.
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