App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Humans and demons are at war, and their arbiters (dragons) have settled down for a 200 year nap. Things ain't looking so good, but we can always count on a few chosen heroes to set things right in a world full of conflict. So yeah, Crimsonheart probably doesn't feature the most groundbreaking RPG story of all time, but it keeps things moving. And it's when things get moving that the game well and truly shines.
Crimsonheart could be considered an almost by-the-numbers App Store Action RPG. It's got the same emphasis on fetch quests (gather 10 of something, then gather 5 of something, and so on), the same top-down perspective, and the same focus on mashing the attack and special skill buttons while murdering various beasties. Most of it's been done before, but there are more than a few key differences that help to make it feel special. As in really special, not "good effort" special.
The most immediately obvious trait Crimsonheart has going for it are the visuals. To an extent they might appear a little rougher than other titles, but they have some spectacular designs and very fluid animations. I've played other, more popular ARPGs on my iPhone that don't even come close to it. I'm also a fan of the card system, which lets players gather cards from monsters that can be fused to their equipment for bonus effects or combine two cards to potentially make even stronger ones. And this is in addition to the crafting and enchanting. Last and most interesting is the ability to utilize an AI partner. After a certain point in the story players will get a buddy who they can both switch to with the press of a button and set custom AI commands to dictate their actions. I have to say, it works pretty friggin' well, too.
While the story is a bit uninspired, the real problem is the text. The writing is okay overall but the text itself doesn't wrap properly, leading to some words being cut-off randomly and continued on the next line. I'm also not a fan of the way I tend to get stuck in a combo while facing the wrong direction. And as much as I enjoy the special online features (daily arena challenges and dungeons, the ability to earn special items, events, super high-level epic boss fights with other players, etc...) none of it is explained clearly. Players are just sort of expected to hop online and know what to do. It leads to a lot of trial-and-error, perhaps a little wasted cash, and more than a few insta-deaths.
And yet, despite my irritation at the slightly clumsy combat and the somewhat broken exposition, I find myself totally in love with Crimsonheart. It does just enough differently to feel unique, and it's a joy to look at. Oh, and it's fun.