Tag: Arpg »
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
At first I was disappointed. Dark Avenger looks like a pretty cool dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash RPG, but it’s broken up into these tiny little stages and there’s virtually no story outside of a guy going around killing what looks to be undead. Then I noticed the option to replay levels in a Time Attack mode and it all clicked; this isn’t a conventional hack-and-slash RPG, it’s more like somebody stuffed the genre into an arcade cabinet. And despite a few minor complaints I’d say they did a darned good job of it.
As I’ve mentioned the world of Dark Avenger is riddled with the undead. Or so it would seem, anyway. The rather aggressive protagonist’s motivations aren’t made entirely clear but that’s okay because there’s killin’ to be done! Like most other iOS action RPGs the interface uses a simple virtual stick/giant attack button surrounded by ability icons control scheme. Players slice their way through each relatively brief level in an attempt to open up the next and gather loot and gold along the way. Later levels, in turn, provide better loot and more gold but can be a lot tougher.
The going is a little slow at first but once the player’s character levels up a bit and gains a few more skills Dark Avenger really starts to come into its own. Yes, it’s another Diablo-like on iOS, but the emphasis on smaller levels and replayability is surprisingly clever and works quite well. Especially the Infinity Tower that pits players against increasingly tough waves of enemies for lots of gold and medals (or something like that) that can be used to buy better gear.
The way Dark Avenger is broken up and the rather small levels might be off-putting to some but I still think they fit the mobile platform well. However I’m not too crazy about the rather stiff combat system. Using the same exact three-hit combo over and over again feels repetitive, this same combo ends with a knockback that forces the player to chase after their targets, and skills can’t be triggered during an attack so it’s impossible to cancel out a combo with a special attack. I’ve eaten way too many flaming golem fists simply because I couldn’t trigger my character’s dash move during a combo.
It may not sport the most responsive combat system in the world but Dark Avenger still manages to be fun thanks to its arcade-like nature. There’s lots of loot to earn and possibly upgrade, and plenty of skills to unlock and train. Plus the Infinity Tower is practically a game unto itself.
I’ve only ever positively associated two franchises with the word “Avatar.” The first is the fantastic animated series on Nickelodean (watch it if you haven’t yet, seriously), and the second is Ultima. It was never quite as huge an RPG franchise as Final Fantasy, but it’s got more than enough die-hard fans to justify an iOS rekindling. Hence the upcoming Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar.
For those unfamiliar with the series it’s essentially a fantasy action RPG set in the same world (Britannia) but with ever changing threats. Each game also stars a legendary hero known as The Avatar. Hence the title. Ultima Foraver is set over twenty years after the events of Ultima IV with Lord British stepping down from the throne and his progeny, Lady British, taking over. The land is once again in peril and once again in need of The Avatar. A horrible disease referred to as “the Black Weep” is slowly consuming the land; turning people into monsters, ugly-ing up the countryside, and generally being a nuisance. Players must combat the Weep while also conditioning their character to become the next Avatar if Britannia is to have any hope of survival (Spoiler Alert: the series has currently already crossed into double-digits).
Ultima Forever is going to be an online RPG, but without all the rampant ganking found in Ultima Online (thank goodness). The focus this time is on co-op, with up to four players able to team up to take on an assortment of the game’s dungeons. Dungeons that scale in difficulty, depending on the number of participants of course. The number of players can also have an effect on what areas can be accessed as certain locks and other puzzles require a specific number of people present to interact with them. Combat itself is also a bit more involved with position playing a key role. Attacking from the sides and especially the back will typically do more damage, and many enemies incorporate attacks with specific hit zones that can be avoided with enough practice. And as one would expect there’s going to be loot aplenty. But this is looking to be more than a mere dungeon crawler, however.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s an emphasis on turning each player’s character into The Avatar, and to do that they need to master the Eight Virtues. Each Virtue has its own meter that fills up based on the dialog choices a player makes as well as some of the quests they complete. Once they’ve mastered all eight (no easy task as it requires building up a good reputation in all of Britannia’s many towns, among other things) they can throw their own little Avatar parade.
Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is still a few months away with a predicted Spring release, but it’s already looking pretty sharp. And it’s going to be free-to-play, so I expect to see a lot of would-be Avatars running around Britannia when I load it up.