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Review: Infinity Blade

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
6:00 PM on 12.09.2010
Review: Infinity Blade photo


Earlier this year, when Epic Games revealed Epic Citadel -- a tech demo for its Unreal Engine running on Apple’s mobile iOS -- heads turned. It was a technically impressive piece of software, demonstrating some truly incredible visuals on Apple’s mobile devices.

It’s certainly a hell of a hook, enough to get the folks at Cupertino flaunting the software every chance it got, but gorgeous visuals don’t make a great game. Fortunately, the first iOS title to utilize the Unreal Engine, Chair Entertainment’s action-RPG Infinity Blade, has the gameplay chops to match.

Infinity Blade (iPhone, iPod, iPad [Reviewed])
Developer: Chair
Publisher: Epic Games
Released: December 9, 2010
Price: $5.99

Infinity Blade puts players in the role of an unnamed knight determined with besting the ominous and powerful God-King, a mysterious emperor that evidently sits on a throne all day waiting for warriors to challenge his dominion. Okay, make that “knights,” plural -- Infinity Blade’s “story” (if you could call it that) unfolds across the span of hundreds of years, with players working through “Bloodlines.” As the game begins, you’ll step into the armor of a low level fighter, working your way from the gates of the castle to the throne room, besting guards -- warriors, assassins, massive trolls -- in the process.

Your first fight with the God-King will end in  your execution -- you simply aren’t equipped to conquer the formidable monarch. At this point, the game will fast forward some 20 years ahead, where you’ll begin the next “Bloodline” as the son of the fallen warrior, determined to exact retribution for your father’s death. This second time you will fail, as you will the third, fourth… you get the idea.

Infinity Blade is a game that’s all about character progression, as your stats and armor will carry over from bloodline to bloodline as you repeatedly try to crush the seemingly unstoppable king. Within the first 20 minutes, you’ll have essentially seen everything the game has to offer to you in terms of what you’ll be doing and in what order you’ll be doing it. Fortunately, Chair has built an enjoyable, addictive gameplay mechanics into Infinity Blade. Married with the role-playing game-like character development, Infinity Blade manages to sidestep what could have been a monotonous catastrophe.



Unlike the Epic Citadel demo, movement throughout the God-King’s fortress is extremely limited. Points appear on the screen indicate where you can move, and simply tapping the screen will take you in that direction. You can look around freely, finding out-of-sight loot, but that’s as much freedom as you're given. While much of the loot (in the form of sacks of coins or item-carrying treasure chests) is mostly randomized throughout each bloodline, the movement through the citadel isn't really. After a few plays, where you’ll go and your movement choices become second nature. As you move through the environment, you’ll invariably be met with enemy resistance, and that’s when the real meat of Infinity Blade rears its head -- the combat.

Battle can easily be described as a more freeform version of Nintendo’s Punch-Out!!. You’ll tap the sides of the game screen to dodge left or right, or hold an on-screen shield icon to block incoming attacks. Slashing with your weapon is done with the swipe of a finger, the direction of which will result in a different angle of attack. If your first inclination is the swipe wildly on the screen, don’t bother, as enemies will simply block your attacks. Instead, it’s about finding patterns, swiping when there’s an opening, or even matching timing and slash directions to successfully parry an attack.

Unlike Punch-Out!!, however, the characters you’ll encounter don’t hold to the same kind of patterns as Nintendo’s pugilists. The characters you’ll face are each unique in their own ways, be it in their armor or weapon of choice, but Infinity Blade doesn’t have its Bald Bull. Instead, you’ll be faced with “classes” of characters, each which have their own attack approaches, strengths, and weaknesses. For example, the larger troll-like characters tend to be slower and more powerful. Instead of mirroring Punch-Out!!’s puzzle-like pattern battles, you’ll have to reply more on quick thinking and reflexes as opposed to memorization.

While the combat isn’t particular deep, it is extremely satisfying, thanks to extensive player progression and items. As you complete battles you’ll win experience points, and as you level up you can increase various skills, like strength or speed. You’ll also be able to find and equip a substantial amount of unique armor and weapons which you can “master” in the game through usage. Some items will even grant you with magic abilities, which can be activated and cast by drawing a symbol on the screen with your finger. Because battles are designed to be quick, punch experiences, leveling up and earning news items becomes almost like a drug; it’s easy to get wrapped up in an addictive “just one more battle” rhythm.

It doesn’t make that much sense to harp on how wonderful Infinity Blade looks, because that much is obvious. It’s some jaw-dropping stuff, for sure. View the screenshots scattered about this review and know that your eyes are not playing tricks on you -- the Unreal Engine is doing this on your iDevice, and it isn’t even breaking a sweat. If you’re looking for a game to rub in the faces of your Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7 owning buddies, look no further than Infinity Blade.

Thankfully, Infinity Blade doesn’t rest on its good looks. Sure, it’s not a massive, open-world, but instead a tightly guided series of intense battles coupled with some seriously addictive character progression. As a showpiece for the power of your iDevice, Infinity Blade is a no-brainer. Bonus: despite its repetitive nature, there’s a great game under the hood, one that's easy to recommend.


Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo
Review: Infinity Blade photo

THE VERDICT



8.5 /10
Great: Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.





Legacy Comments (will be imported soon)


Oh shit son!
Are those pics from the iPhone or the iPad?
This game has destroyed any chance of productivity out of me today.
@Mithrot

I couldn't tell you which he used, but I can tell you that it looks exactly like this on my iPhone 4, and runs fluidly.
too bad it doesn't work on ipods earlier than the third gen, or the iphone 3g. I really wanted to try this, it's worse than pc gaming, with this there will be newer more amazing games, with you having to buy a new idevice every year to keep up. :s. (itouch second gen here)
This game is great. I have it on my iPhone 3GS. There is a little slow down here and there, but it's incredibly minor. The game is beautiful and tons of fun. I've barely been able to put it down all day.

Seriously. Go get it.
THIS is the direction that mobile gaming should be going in! I'll be getting this one for sure for the IPad... though I may add it to my Christmas list so my hubby has something other than fuzzy slippers that he can buy me! :)
I've been playing this game all day, it's awesome.
It's very fun - though somewhat shorter and more repetitive than I would've liked.

Even in doing that it is clever though - with you fighting the big bad guy at the end every time, if you lose - you get to repeat it again as a "son" of your previous character. That is the entire plot right there in my experience so far - gone through a few generations and not really that close to winning yet.

It's certainly not a deep game, but it does have solid mechanics, and is gorgeous and fun.
This is the kind of game that belongs on a gaming device, rather than an Ipod touch/Iphone

I haven't played it yet, but the lack of buttons just makes me feel as though it could be much better anywhere else.
No buttons no buy.

Dv8thwonder, multiple iDevice owner. lol
This game makes me want to get an iPad. It already looks fantastic on my phone but it's so epic that I'm afraid my iPhone could explode at any moment. Seriously fun stuff!
@MathewRD

The touch screen works better for this game than buttons ever could. It's a sword slashing game; the only thing more suited to that than a finger slashing across the screen would be a Wiimote or Move controller.

@Dv8thwonder

Dv8thwonder, guy (?) who misses out on good games. LOL.
@mrandydixon I never said I wasn't going to play it just that I wasn't going to pay for it. JB ftw!
I like the look of this, iphone game of the year?
Good review Nick.
I'm gonna go with mrandydixon here. This game was MADE for touchscreen control.
I get a bit of slowdown on iPhone 3GS.

Graphics aside I thought the game was rubbish myself. You guys arnt missing out on much. Its a bit of a rythm style game if you look at it, just when the enemy does one action to counter it with a few rpg elements to it.

Ive played it for 2x20 minutes sesions and im really not interested in going back.
I literally went out today and bought an iTouch just to get this game (now I've spent the whole day DLing a million other Apps) and holy shit was it worth it!
It pretty stunning and with matchmaking and new levels on the way, it looks to be up there with all the top igames.
@mattodroid
I want you to be the god of my religion.
What Matt said.
I can't believe Apple sold out on this one. Everyone who owns an iPhone 3G is completely left in the dust, and there's no excuse for that. There's no reason that this can't be on the 3G, and Apple needs to stop abandoning its consumer base like this. That's it, I'm getting a Droid.

**Just kidding**

I hate 3G owners who complain that games don't run well/at all on their phones. It's like a Super Nintendo owner complaining that Nintendo's abandoned them in favor of the Wii.
God, I wish this was coming out for Android devices.
this really pisses me off, not the fact that the game is good, im happy about that

what pisses me off is developers go and say that the wii doesn't offer them enough to make the games they want, then Epic goes and makes a fucking BEAUTIFUL RPG like this on a FUCKING PHONE

If a dev thought they could get away with saying the Wii jsut doesn't have the horsepower to do what they want NOW, then they're dead fucking wrong
I get mattodroid and MatthewRD confused sometimes, but not anymore. Well said, sir.
@Speeven

Thing is a lot of people are still under their 24 month contract for a 3G. There are still quite a few people using them, so you think they would cater to that market. They were still selling these up until mid 2009, for something so new not to be able to play games already is pretty poor.
So, it's Demon's Souls on rails?
@Speeeven Yeah that comparison doesn't really work considering that the Wii came out about 16 years after the SNES while the 3G came out 2 years ago....

In any case I find it incredible that we live in a time where a game that looks this good can be played from a phone!
Gamplay is okayish. I don't know iOS game developers don't just look towards DS games for how something should control withought buttons. Still this is a start, I'm glad it's not a load of virtual buttons like I expected.
If you were a fan of Nike Tyson's Punch-Out!! For NES, this is your game right now.
^Mike Tyson's :)
How? How the hell can Unreal do this? There has got to be some catch I'm not aware of. They must have cut some corners somewhere to get it to function so well.
@Lenigod and KRA1D - Sort of. You get to choose your path and they give you plenty of time to chill and search the scenery for money and potions. The experience and upgrade system are really well done and the combat system is very gratifying. For $6, I am not complaining.
for how cheap it is why can't we have more games like this one consoles or more major handhelds. To me I normally don't mix phones and gaming. Yet my friend had and wanted to show me it looked cool and played well. Yet its still a damn shame the consoles are too chicken shit since COD4 came out to do something like this more often.
The total RAM in the Wii restricts it from fancier graphics engines like Unreal Engine 3.

Given sizable video and system RAM, a Wii wouldn't look too bad.
actually a cool system where you come back as the next of the bloodline but if it never ends thats dumb but still seems like a cool game.
@Pentagram - I think the iPhone has more ram.
@Pentagram
I'm pretty sure the iPhone 4 has more everything.
Well looks like I need another iDevice then, you will be missed iPod Touch 2gen.
I was watching the IGN.com video review for this game... and I was super pissed off at then end of it when Hilary Goldstein was all like "some might find it uninteresting, but a tried and true gamer will love every second of Infinity Blade"... All I could think is "fuck you, wanker" and then pondered "I wonder what Destructoid has to say about this game?"

Anyway, point is, thank you Nick Chester for not making me feel like any less of a videogame player if I don't want this game (which, thanks to your review, I actually do want to get). Love you <3
I LOVE the music in this game!! Reminds me of Trent Reznor...
So this is Infinity Blade. Huh. Looks neat. I don't have any Iphone or pad. Have an Ipod though. So if I stare at the screen and make BEEP BOOP noises that's sorta like having the game.
This game is amazing, really raised the bar for iphone gaming.
Please please please be part of the solution, not the problem of false advertising! This game is not for "iPhone, iPod, iPad" it's for "iPhone (3GS & 4), iPod Touch (3rd & 4th Gen), iPad" You wouldn't call a DSi only game a DS game would you?
Infinity Blade make me wonder why other handheld games cost �30. It sure as heck isn't the packaging that knocks the price up there.
Now I needs a new Ipod.
Wow, Is the iphone 4 more powerful than a Wii? This game makes it seem so.
I have it and it's remarkable.
So far this is awesome, though things tend to be just slightly unresponsive for me when things get crazy (specifically against the God King). I've done 5 bloodlines so far. It's funny that Nick mentions the "just one more battle" addiction, because for me its a case of "just one more bloodline! I'm sure I can win this time!" lol.

And I've been playing on my iPhone 4 most of the day, but I tried it for a bit on my dad's iPad and I have to say I like it better on the iPad. There is a lot more room to do swing without accidentally hitting dodge or block or pause.




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