Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Borne from the fires of Kickstarter (and Austin-based developer, White Whale Games) rises God of Blades. This game is at once a celebration of sci-fi/fantasy novels and the visual aesthetic that made for awesome book and prog rock album covers. Players control The Nameless King, woken from his slumber to run endlessly and kill all who stand in his way for...reasons. The story is perfectly incomprehensible, but one thing is clear: everyone else has gotta die.
This is an auto-runner with one-on-one combat. Swiping forward, up, or down engages different sword attacks, each with different timing to exploit the enemies' exposed points and even break their armor and weapons. Swiping leftward does a parry/dodge move that can deflect enemy blows or get out of the way of them, possibly opening up a counter-attack opportunity. More powerful enemies appear throughout the couple dozen or so levels, including bosses that require many blows to vanquish. Experience is gained to unlock new swords throughout the game, but the variation matters little; one of the initial swords is probably still my favorite. There are several swords that must be unlocked through the "Lorekeeper" function, which uses Foursquare to check for location.
When the combat is at its best, it's like a delicate dance between two warriors, doomed to eternally clash until one makes a fatal mistake. Enemies can even be knocked in to the air and can hurt or kill oncoming foes. Killing two enemies with blow, now that's just smart! The visuals are absolutely fantastic, with detailed backgrounds and a design that looks like the cover of the books God of Blades was inspired by.
When campaign mode is finished after 2-3 hours, there's an endless mode where high scores are the goal. There's Game Center leaderboards, and the ability to tweet about the opponents that have been felled along the way. But really, what makes the game so special is the language that it speaks. It is committed to its theme of 70s pulp fantasy novels, and it does not break character at any point. The dialogue and names are over-the-top and even nonsensical, but that's part of the charm.
The combat of God of Blades gets somewhat repetitive, with the same 3 attacks and parrying. Parrying in particular is frustrating due to the way it slows the running speed down, which also slows down attack speed. The only time I really found a benefit to parrying was against bosses, where parrying and then swiping forward was often the solution to the tricky fights.
God of Blades is a great take on the auto-runner genre, and the fact that it absolutely commits to its theme is part of what makes it so much fun. There's nothing quite like it on the App Store, and it's fun to boot. All hail God of Blades!