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Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I never really gave either of the other two SEED games much of a glance – both because of the glut of content on the App Store and because it’s hard to know which action RPG is “the greetest” – but I’m giving the third installment a chance now. Oh, right, Heroes in Time is actually SEED 3: Heroes in Time. No idea why the titles don’t match. Anyway, it turns out that this is one iOS action RPG with a surprisingly interesting (if more than a bit textbook) story. Along with some middle of the road gameplay and an obnoxiously rigid virtual movement pad.

When a king learns he’s the proud father of twin boys, he’s elated. Then the witch/advisor who’s totally not evil and/or up to something convinces him that it’s a bad omen and he must “get rid” of one of them. Naturally there’s someone who doesn’t agree with this plan, snatches the would-be sacrificial lamb and goes, well, on the lam. For about a minute. Then it’s all “dramatic showdown in the rain” and “Ten Years Later.” The thought-to-be-dead prince is found once again by none other than his father and brothers (one twin, another not) in the wilderness on a hunting trip. Turns out he’s been raised by wolves. Then his non-twin brother adopts him as a kind of pet/servant. Flash forward another ten years and things start to get a little Oedipus. It’s nothing if not a unique mash-up of common formulas.

Aside from having a story that manages to be legitimately interesting despite the mixing of archetypes, Heroes in Time also looks very nice. Characters and backgrounds are colorful and actually pretty varied, and the animations are smooth. And if the main campaign ever starts to drag there’s always the option of fighting in one of many arenas that can be unlocked via in-app purchase.

While Heroes in Time can be a bit by-the-numbers in terms of gameplay and underlying systems such as crafting, the controls are the real problem. They function well enough, true, but they won’t react unless they’re hit spot-on. In other words, if a thumb slips, it can result in stopping dead while moving or standing around like a statue instead of attacking whatever’s trying to eat the hero’s face at the time.

Heroes in Time might trip up a little bit with the gameplay, but what’s there is decent if nothing else. What’s surprisingly pleasant is the way the story (of all things) starts to take hold, clichés and all.

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