Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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Game Controls Rating:
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Sooziz developer Touch Foo has returned with a side-scrolling action-RPG called Swordigo. The story is typical RPG fare: dead master, mystical sword to defeat ancient evil, yadda yadda yadda. The gameplay is something of a Castlevania-meets-Zelda type: there's experience to earn, enemies can be dealt number damage, with a segmented world to explore, but the player has a heart meter and thematically, it recalls the Zelda series.
Surprisingly, I actually really liked the virtual controls – or didn't mind them, at least. The buttons are all responsive, of good sizes, and can be rearranged. This is especially surprising considering that there are three action buttons on the right side of the screen by default, it works better than it should. The game does let players earn experience, but it feels more like natural progression, rewarding through improved stats, with grinding never feeling necessary. It's a rather lengthy experience for $1.99, taking several hours just to get halfway through!
Swordigo has plenty of optional paths to explore, secret treasure to discover, and goofy enemies to fight. A clever combat element is that enemies can be killed by knocking them into a bottomless pit – this even includes the mini-bosses. It's extremely satisfying to send an enemy to a watery grave without draining their health entirely. The game is also universal and supports iCloud, just as I want every game to be. Carrying progress across devices was extremely easy, as it appears to just default to the most recent save, whether that be local or network. iCloud can easily be disabled for those that don't want it or are paranoid about it handling save files.
Some of the boss fights can be annoying, in particular the boss before the second sword shard, who is resistant to magic, but makes it way difficult to get in close to attack him. It's more of a war of attrition, of just trying to outlast him than it is a fight against him. The warp checkpoint placement is oddly spaced – sometimes there are long sections between checkpoints, then sometimes there's another one a minute later, which is really quite frustrating.
The platforming can be frustrating at times, as there are ledges that are just out of reach, or just a little taller than the range of the double-jump. One section involving a swinging platform with a tricky jump right before a mini-boss fight incurred my particular wrath, considering that it would cost health before a battle where it was necessary, and if the player died in that battle, they have to do that jump again.
While some aspects did annoy me with the combat and platforming, overall this is an extremely enjoyable action-RPG experience. The classical elements are there but it's not overwhelmingly retro, and it is definitely worth checking out.