Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.6
App Reviewed on: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Sword of Fargoal Legends is a retro dungeon crawler that features infinite random dungeons, traps, monsters, and all kinds of loot. The iPad exclusive version features HD graphics and pinch-zoom scaling of maps. It also retains all the great aspects of the iPhone version such as custom playlists and the Crystal Social Gaming Network. The custom playlist feature is nice if you intend to play for long sessions, but I really thought the game’s soundtrack was appropriate for the dungeon theme.

Basically, you are tasked with retrieving the Sword of Fargoal from the 20th floor of a heavily guarded evil dungeon, and returning it to the legendary knight, Sir Gedwyn. Along the way you will cheer in triumph as each monster is defeated and new floors are uncovered, but ultimately you will sob uncontrollably when the deathblow is handed to your well-invested character. I went into Fargoal almost completely blind because I have never played the original or the iPhone remake. I knew it was a rogue-like (unforgiving random dungeon game), but I had no idea what to expect. Let me just say that the game left me feeling equally bitter, addicted, and entertained.

The game has a tutorial that shows you how to move, attack, obtain items, and explore, but it isn’t very long or in depth. It only took me a few minutes to complete the tutorial and jump into the main adventure. You are given the choice between a male or female character and three difficulty levels. I created a male character named Sir Serious and picked the normal difficulty. After being teleported to the first floor of the dungeon, slaying two fearsome looking were-bears, and amassing a small pile of gold, I made my way down the stairs to the second floor… and was promptly killed by a friendly looking dwarf. I repeated a similar process with characters named Mrs. Serious and Serious Jr. After they both died on the 4th and 1st floor respectively, I decided it was time to move down to the easiest mode of difficulty where death wasn’t so permanent. My new character, Uncle Serious, did much better because he was instantly resurrected by fate after each death.

The ingame graphics are really crisp and work well with the bird’s-eye view, but the various cut scenes are a little low resolution. I think it adds to the retro feel of the game because the animated cutscenes look like something you would see on an 80’s Saturday morning cartoon. I enjoyed the style of the character and enemy sprites, but I wished they had more frames of animation. There are basic animations for attacks and skills, but the characters seem kind of lifeless when standing still. On the plus side, various shields and even the Sword of Fargoal itself shows up on your character when you pick them up, and there is definitely a great deal of enemy variety with wizards, dwarves, elves, bats, and even wyverns lurking through the various dungeon floors.

Gameplay in Fargoal lends itself to a trial and error approach. After several romps through the randomly generated dungeons you will begin to learn strategies on what to do and not to do. The smart interface will display whatever actions seem most logical in the top right corner, such as a teleport or healing spell when you’re in danger, but you can also rummage through your bag using the icons on the left side of the screen if you are interested in using other items. If you do manage to make your way all the way to the bottom and obtain the Sword of Fargoal, you will have to frantically race against time to get back out.

Overall, I enjoyed the fast-paced pick-up and play experience. Just remember, if you play on the medium or hard difficulty, go into it expecting to die, and if the opposite happens then you can feel pretty accomplished. The game definitely centers around re-playability, but for those who aren’t interested in losing their character an easy mode is offered. I almost felt like I was cheating when playing on the lower difficulty, but it did help me learn the ropes and nail down a solid strategy. Sword of Fargoal Legends isn’t for everyone, but it is a solid rogue-like that can be slightly tuned to the players skill level. If you’re a fan of classic dungeon crawls and infinite replay value, or you have a high level of patience and determination, then you will get a lot of value out of this title.

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