Developer: Stupid Ghost
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Controlling a lone hero able to summon legions of creatures/soldiers/whatevers to fight for them or with them can be lots of fun. It can also be tough to strike a proper balance. To its credit The Villain actually does strike a fairly good balance, but it also fumbles on a few basics along the way.

As far as I can tell from the brief and wordless intro, the hero (i.e. “villain”) makes friends with some skeletons. Then some jerk sees them fraternizing and assumes they’re all badguys. Much fighting ensues. Each of The Villain’s many levels will have players summoning skeletal warriors, casting devastating spells, and hacking away at enemy soldiers directly. The skeletons aren’t all that hearty and will go down fairly quickly, but in large numbers they can be rather formidable.

The Villain makes use of some pretty cute pixely/cartoony graphics but it’s all the stuff players can earn and upgrade that really hog the spotlight. Every unit and spell can be upgraded to increase its effectiveness using stones earned by completing levels. In addition to these stones, new spells, units, and equipment are also handed out upon finishing certain levels.

It all makes for a fairly entertaining game, but in the process of creating such a summon-heavy action RPG The Villain seems to have overlooked a number of basics. Having no in-game tutorial of any kind is unfortunate as it makes learning the various ins and outs rather difficult, but it can be worked around. Forcing players to use a series of obnoxiously constrained virtual buttons, on the other hand, can be more of a problem. They don’t ruin the game, but constantly having to readjust thumb placement because it drifted just a few pixels outside of the hit box is really irritating.

Then there’s the way the attack and movement buttons obstruct the bottom corners of the screen. And the rather pitiful amounts of stones earned through level completion couple with the rather high cost of upgrades. Oh, also the lack of any sort of indication as to how many enemies need to be finished off before a level is completed.

The Villain can be a good bit of innocent fun although it isn’t exactly the most polished iOS game out there. The objectives are a little scattered and the interface is somewhat clunky, but conjuring up a small army of adorable skeletons to do the dirty work is always a good time.

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