Version Reviewed: 1.05.02
Device Reviewed On: iPad mini (Retina)
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Taking full advantage of the Unity3D graphics engine, The Descent presents itself as an effortlessly-designed FPS that will take players on a wonderfully visual journey of discovery and adventure as they aim to uncover the mysteries behind life. With ancient artifacts and age-old mythical legends as its base, one assumes the role of father and avid historical explorer John, who is in search of his lost daughter, Liza.
Having found the cave where the ancients put the “Book of the Dead” to rest long ago, Liza soon realizes that dark forces are surrounding her. The disappearance of her boyfriend, Steven, pushes Liza to enroll the investigative services of her father as fears soon begin to rise over her own personal safety.
Leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues and objects behind her as to her current whereabouts - including her diary that unlocks some the book's eternal secrets and using the advice of John's best firmed, Bill - players will guide him through 11 levels split across two episodes as they make their way through cave-like environments, out into the bright daylight of the rainforest, and beyond. All to free his soul that has become trapped between the worlds of both the living and the dead. Just as with most role-playing titles, The Descent is driven largely by on-screen dialogue that adds to the overall storyline. Players may choose to commit to carrying out certain actions on behalf of John, but must be aware of the consequences of their choices. Sadly there's no audio to accompany this written dialog, but I generally found this didn't affect overall gameplay. The conversations are also manually controlled, but do proceed automatically when the game is left idle.
Controlling John's actions requires two points of touch. Players use the left of the screen and a joystick-style direction button to physically move while tapping and dragging anywhere on the right will move the camera's position, allowing them to see upwards and downwards. Trust me, players are going to want to use both of these to see the visually atmospheric settings that The Descent offers in all their glory. Dedicated buttons to the right can be used to both fire, and jump. There's also the option to swap out the dynamic joystick for touch pad control if preferred.
I won't go as far as saying that The Descent has the best visuals I've seen on iOS, but they come pretty close. There were some slight visual glitches in the forest's floor, for example, but nothing a small update won't be able to rectify.
Overall, I found The Descent to be not only visually exciting, but actually enjoyable to play. That's important in a heavily-saturated genre such as RPGs. The only real points of improvement would be the 'fill' sounds bundled when switching level. These appeared to cut-out too suddenly, rather than gracefully fade out - and some arguably awry grammar. Regardless, The Descent is certainly worthy of its purposefully ambiguous name.