Last December Infinity Blade delivered the killer blow to the fragile argument that Apple’s iOS systems couldn’t rival handheld consoles with its gorgeous visuals and moreish touch-powered swordplay.
A year on, Infinity Blade returns. The visual standard remains high with tranquil picture-postcard environments coupled with towering enemies spawned from a mash-up of Eastern and Western mythology. But while the eye candy has been enhanced, the big changes are in the game itself.
The set up is the same. You fight through a castle to kill a mighty boss. You get there and get killed. You are reborn and try again and again, until you win. It’s like Groundhog Day but with no Sonny & Cher to wake up to each morning (unless that’s what you’re playing on iTunes). With every attempt you get stronger and step-by-step you develop into a warrior who can actually win the battle.
So far, so familiar but this time there is more complexity to the hero’s development, with new weapons to buy with your treasure, including heavy axes and dual swords, and the ability to power up equipment using magic gems. Impatient players can also use real-money to buy items, but the game doesn’t punish those who don’t. It’s less linear, too: as you progress the castle opens up revealing new routes and secrets.
The fights remain the focus though. The pleasure of the finger swiping and tapping involved in defending and attacking feels less scripted than before, allowing scope to fight in your own style.
It is still a game of grinding and leveling up, but it always keeps the next breakthrough within reach, and this gives you the impetus to keep you hacking and slashing on. That said, it does lack the wow factor of the first Infinity Blade, the formula is still a tad repetitive and the additional complexity might not please everyone. But for a fiver it’s marvellous fun and truly great value.