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Developer: Uppercut Games
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

What is Epoch? Factually, it is a cover-based shooter where players control a robot that automatically fires at targeted enemies. It can move between 3 pieces of cover, and the player can swipe horizontally to move it between each cover location, and upwards to jump from one end to the other. Players earn money that can be spent on upgrades, like better rifles as well as grenades and missiles with different properties. But in reality, Epoch takes many cues from Infinity Blade, which is structured nearly identically. Unfortunately, what worked well for Infinity Blade shows exactly where Epoch goes wrong.

Infinty Blade had an intuitive control scheme where each action was clear, and the game was a perfect fit for touchscreen devices. Structurally, the game was short, but culminated in a challenging boss battle. The game encouraged replay value by featuring newer and more powerful enemies, along with new equipment to obtain to make fighting that fixed-strength end boss easier. The way it brilliantly played with, and even commented on, repetition in games by making it an integral part of the product is why it all worked so well.

Making a game that’s based on repetition just doesn’t work for Epoch. The movement and jumping only work when the player is exactly spatially aware of where the protagonist is. Sometimes, a swipe upwards does nothing because the player is in the center of the cover. The game is short; it took only perhaps little over an hour for the first play-through, and I didn’t die until I got to the final boss. Similarly to Infinity Blade, the boss is much harder than anything that came before it, but instead of causing the game to reset, the player just has to keep fighting it until they win, or by repeating earlier levels to get enough money to purchase more powerful equipment. As such, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as killing the God King at all. Then a harder difficulty opens up, and while enemies are more challenging (and the combat becomes more interesting) and more powerful equipment can be purchased, it just feels like running on a treadmill.

Epoch gives me no good reason to continue. Infinity Blade provided reasons to keep going, from just the desire to kill the God King, to better equipment that eventually unlocked new areas. Even the ending of Epoch is unsatisfying, where Infinity Blade provided intrigue toward the future and its potential conclusion. There’s just none of that strong desire provided by Epoch. While new transmissions are available on replays, they still don’t clear anything up, and I’m not interested enough to keep going to figure out if anything will change if I keep going.

I may be guilty of not judging Epoch on its own merits, but the similarities to Infinity Blade are all there, and almost everything is inferior. Even a flawed game like Shadowgun does stylish-looking cover combat much better. Among its class of high-priced (for the App Store, anyway) games, there are just much better experiences. The experience is intriguing, and the game is rather beautiful, being both detailed and colorful. It’s just that a lot of work needed to be done on the drawing board to understand where its inspirations went right, and what Epoch does differently to understand where it goes wrong.

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