Developer: InMotion Software
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Graphics and Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you were ever a fan of the fantasy-themed 1985 hack and slasher Gauntlet by Atari, you’re probably going to like Catacombs. Developed by InMotion Software, Catacombs is a dual stick dungeon crawler. Set in an ever-bending and ever-twisting dungeon environment, you navigate the dark, dreary halls while encountering an onslaught of creatures determined to plunge your once peaceful homeland into darkness.

Consisting of pretty simplistic gameplay, the game sees you take the role of either of three adventurers, including the Warrior, the Mage and the Archer. Trawling various corridors and passageways, you aim to defeat a number of weird creatures set on ultimately killing you. Using a range of weapons alongside a whopping amount of sorcery and magic, you continue down unknowing paths. The game consists of you trying to find both gold coins and keys. To gain gold you have to kill your enemies, and as the game progresses your enemies get ever harder to kill, gaining health bars of their own. When gold is dropped by a creature you’ll here a “Ka-Ching” sound, signaling for you to go and pick it up. Golden keys however, enable you to unlock the many doors holding the enemies back from you. Every so often you will come across rooms or large segments within this underground system of murky tunnels. Here lies within were your enemies continually spawn from. Now because Catacombs is simplistic in its approach, the basic goals such as collecting keys and gold from enemies throughout the game always stay the same. This meant that Catacombs, to me, became a bit stale.

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Spawn portals can create up to 5-6 enemies at a time, and boy those things can move fast! As with previous titles similar in the genre, Catacombs works on a should-be now familiar control system. To the left of the screen you have a touchable area. Within this area you can move in any and all directions, controlling your characters actual movement within the level map. The other touchable area located on the right of the screen, controls the various directions in which you throw or cast your next attack. These two control methods combined make for a pretty seamless navigation experience around quite a large map. To the left of the right control pad you have a ‘Special ability’ button. Dependent on which character you are playing as, and which ability you unlock, you’ll have a specific special ‘special’ ability you can carry out. These include: speedboost, fastshot, bounceshot (shots bounce off surrounding walls) and spread shot (shots are spread out in a fan-esque projection). Tapping this button will carry out the move but deplete the energy needed for it, until such time as it refills. Towards the top of the screen you’ll see a set of useful info, including your current health (XP), amount of power ups you have left, a mini map, gold collected and which level or map you are currently trying to complete.

Graphically, the game is strong, with again a strong level of attention-to-detail present. The camera view in Catacombs is that of a birds eye one, following your character around automatically as you navigate through each tunnel. What really makes this game visually though is the fact that the upcoming path is uncertain. Featuring a black fade-like effect in each side of the screen, determining what is ahead is all but impossible .. making way for lots of surprises around twisting corners.

Summing up, Catacombs is a respectable hack and slash adventure. While is doesn’t contain any hint of 3D visuals and isn’t generically immersive in that sense, the games has a visual style which is both familiar and popular among the lovers of this genre. While Catacombs failed to keep my attention for any more longer than an hour due to its repetitive nature throughout its levels, for its low price and addictive elements it’s definitely, in my opinion, worth a look.

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