Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Opening with the sudden awakening of its main character mid-battle, Armor Blade is a game of tactical fantasy combat. You move across the world map, gathering treasure, training units, and most importantly, facing down wave after wave of opposition as you try to find a way to survive and stand against the oppressive crush of villainous forces you encounter.
Armor Blade has great visuals, with an aesthetic strongly reminiscent of Kingdom Rush. The music is adequate, adding to the ambiance, but honestly you’re going to spend most of your time listening to the hacking and clanking of your troops, and that gets a little tiresome. Also walking the fine line between cool and annoying is the wildly uneven writing – sometimes the script goes from funny to silly to wacky, and not always to great effect.
The combat system in Armor Blade is somewhat unique. In some ways, it feels like a tower defense game in that you build up your attack force, distribute your units in whatever configuration you think will be optimal against the enemy army, and then hit the ‘go’ button to watch semi-passively as your formation smashes into the enemy formation. With the exception of your command unit, your individual troops are completely automated and follow a unit-based attack pattern. Each unit is strong against one form of attack and weak against others. The different units (of which there are 9 to start with) become unlocked as you play, and each one adds to the rock-paper-fireball style combat engine. The skill comes from building a robust roster of troops and then deploying them smartly against your enemies’ formations.
Armor Blade is fun, but it has some distinct downsides. Combat (which forms the absolute heart of gameplay) is almost completely hands-off. Your command unit can cast spells and activate special abilities, but aside from that you just passively watch as your army mashes itself against your enemy. This can be pretty boring, especially if your command unit gets eliminated early on in a fight (which is rare because it's super-powerful, but it can happen); you’ll be reduced to the role of a spectator for the duration of the battle.
Also omnipresent is the invitation to make premium purchases to speed up build times. Training units, identifying magic items, even moving around the world map either takes time or can only be done a limited amount before resting, but all of that can be circumvented with premium currency.
Finally, and most aggravating for those of us who actually like to play our mobile games while being mobile, Armor Blade requires an always-on internet connection. That’s not a gripe for everyone but it certainly makes the game unplayable in the subway, which where I spend my commute.
Armor Blade is a fun game with some unfortunate limitations. If there had been more player interaction and less restrictions on gameplay there would be more to recommend, but as it stands it’s still an enjoyable experience.