A lonely castle, a faceless warrior, and a corrupt God King to dethrone; Despite its diminutive package, Infinity Blade is a haunting scene of radiant beauty and despair.
Players take on the role of a nameless, faceless warrior in pursuit of The God King, an equally faceless tyrant that killed your father. On your quest of vengeance you must vanquish The God King’s guards and defeat him so your father’s spirit may finally be at rest. There’s only one caveat; starting the game you are nowhere near powerful enough to kill The God King. Even by the time you clear out his arsenal of guards, you won’t be prepared. So, you die.
The God King kills you, like he killed your father, and like he will kill your son that follows you. The game flashes forward 20 years after each death, offering players the opportunity to assault the castle once more as a descendant of your previous character. With experience points and equipment passed down through the line, the collective might of several generations will finally be enough to tackle the malevolent ruler.
It’s a very unique approach to death in games, unlike anything before it. It’s also a concept that works fantastically well on the iPhone. Providing players with a shorter overall campaign, but requiring them to replay it several times provides a sense of boundary to the playtime without sacrificing the sensation of progress.
Gameplay is also remarkably deep. Making full use of the iPhone’s touch interface, Infinity Blade features sword-combat that handles like a game of Simon Says prompting players to swipe or tap to dodge or swing but never feels so one-dimensional. There’s fluidity to the motion that always feels lively and intense. Some of the canned animations can get a little repetitive, but the process of anticipating your enemy’s action and responding promptly never feels old.
As players progress through the worn castle they’ll find equipment and gold to upgrade their character, slowly making them more powerful and priming them for The God King. The equipment also provides additional experience points for mastering the items, meaning that players who use a variety of weapons will earn more than those who stick with just their most powerful.
Of course, the highlight of Infinity Blade is the incredible graphical showcase that rivals some current generation console games. Complete with pixel shaders and detailed bump mapping every detail from the characters’ armour to their grotesque scarred flesh is produced incredibly vividly.
The environments also look phenomenal, and not just for a mobile device. The high-arched gothic architecture full of twisted pillars and towering effigies contribute to the game’s tone of heroism and solitude. The Unreal Engine 3 does some incredible work compressing all of these intense visuals in to a mere 331 MB download and works some voodoo to pull every bit of processing power out of the iPhone.
To make things even more miraculous, Infinity Blade pauses the action when exited for multi-tasking and doesn’t slow down the system at all. Battery may drain slightly faster, but the overall performance of the device is not compromised by running the game.
In addition to being a technical marvel, Infinity Blade is a worthwhile mobile game. Those looking for more out of their iPhone gaming can certainly look to Infinity Blade as an answer. The game packs an incredible graphical punch, superior to anything on the PSP or DS, and being designed for limited play sessions the game works fantastically on the go. Infinity Blade may be the first generation of a new wave in mobile gaming, but it’s an incredible head start.