Developer: Gamevil
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

After playing Gamevil’s fabulous Zenonia, I found myself waiting with bated breath, wondering what epic RPG they would port next. Hybrid: Eternal Whisper has been in production for quite some time, and the teaser trailers had me salivating. A combat-oriented adventure with a complex fantasy storyline? Count me in!

IMG_0024Hybrid just hit the App Store a few days ago. The combat is there, and it’s just as complex, fun, and stunning as I’d expected. However, the storyline is another story entirely. I’m an avid reader and a fan of lengthy RPGs…but there is such a thing as too many blocks of text, especially when the story spends more time introducing new concepts than exploring existing, interesting ones. Hybrid’s combat makes it all worth it, but I really recommend hitting the “skip” button. You won’t miss much.

Your character, “Grey,” lives in a world called Platina, which is under attack by dark spirits. Needless to say, it quickly becomes apparent that you’ve got to dig your fellow inhabitants out of this mess by ruthlessly murdering every monster you come across. That’s the short version. The long version includes a mish-mash of way too many bizarre concepts: parallel worlds, spirits, ghosts, hybrids, fairies, magic, mana, force power…every scene, it seems, we learn about a new thing. The story might have been interesting if the player wasn’t inundated with so much information. Unfortunately, skipping the dialogue means you sometimes miss crucial instructions.

IMG_0021Combat is much more interesting than the endless dialogue. Gameplay takes place on a two-dimensional field, and you can move left, right, forward, and back using the virtual D-pad, which works well enough. There’s an easily mashable attack button on the right side of the screen, as well as a button for changing your sword grip. Everything is about well-timed combos: switching your grip in mid-attack, combining magic with sword thrusts to unlock more special abilities, and so on. Make no mistake; Hybrid is not a casual game.

Characters join your party as you progress through the game, but in a way that makes much more sense than just throwing in extra characters. Fairy, for example, can be called into battle to defend you, or to attack enemies, but you’ll have to build up enough “Sync” before doing so. Salamander, a fire spirit, grants you the ability to cast fire spells. The magic system thus evolves in a sensible fashion. While some of the gestures used for magic aren’t always recognized, for the most part, the technical controls work well.

There’s plenty of room for customization. You get points to spend on basic stat upgrades with each level up, but you can also collect “POW” from fallen enemies to increase other stats. Plus, weapon and equipment drops are also common.

My main gripe with Hybird is really that I don’t get to spend enough time playing the game. I adore the combat system; it’s extremely exciting and absolutely murders what little competition it has among fighting RPGs in the App Store. However, between the load screens and the endless plot, you don’t get to spend much time fighting, especially in the beginning. As time goes on the battles get longer, which is a good thing, but many players may give up before they get to the real meat of the game.

I love Gamevil in general, but while Hybrid certainly kept me occupied, it isn’t a home-run like their previous releases. If you’re a hardcore gamer, the proudly beating heart of Hybrid (the combat!) should be enough to thrill you. Just be warned that you’ll be sitting through a lot of load screens.

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