Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
As a general disclaimer, Combo Queen (Action RPG Hybrid) feels a lot like an old school arcade game because of its brutal difficulty. Although it says it's an RPG hybrid, Combo Queen is very much an action game - and a hard one at that. Players that are not up for a timing/rhythm/combo-based challenge, consider this warning: this game is unapologetic in its precision, to the point that it isn't for everyone. All that being said, those yearning for a difficult and satisfying action combat game, will find Combo Queen impressive and fun.
As the title suggests, Combo Queen is about a warrior queen that combines strikes from her twin tomahawks to devastate everything in her path. Between the pixel art look, high-energy chiptune soundtrack, and reflex heavy gameplay, it's very reminiscent of tough-but-fair classics like Mega Man. This game is a little different though, in that it moves like an endless runner and controls by having players tap one of two sides of the screen.
As the warrior queen moves forward automatically she'll encounter enemies in her path. Once an encounter initiates, players have to tap out timing-based combo prompts on the right side of the screen to dole out attacks and go on the defensive to parry by tapping on the left side of the screen. The timing windows for both offensive and defensive maneuvers are very tight, to the point that the game may feel improperly calibrated or simply unfair at first. Over time though, players can internalize enemy patterns and combo timings so that it feels more natural over time.
Between rounds of Combo Queen, players can spend gems earned by defeating enemies on weapon upgrades, new combos, and more. As a combo-focused game though, it never really gets much easier by purchasing these upgrades. Even as players earn experience and level-up, the enemies get increasingly resilient and tricky. Although some might think this would trivialize the sense of progression, I personally found it pretty refreshing to have every stage of Combo Queen start with a steady level of challenge, as opposed to a bunch of early game trash mobs to slog through.
Difficulty aside, Combo Queen still isn't quite for everyone. Although there is a leveling system and purchasable gear, these things are hard earned over multiple play sessions without hugely significant payoffs. Sure it's really nice to purchase tomahawks that add an additional life point, but those will only do so much in the face of having to parry 30 attacks in a row.
Despite having a somewhat niche appeal, Combo Queen is pretty fantastic. It scratches that itch for old school difficulty that rewards attentive and patient players, while never giving them an alternative to learning and mastering the game's timing-based combat. Combo Queen is definitely not for everyone, but its punishing gameplay is nonetheless appealing and compelling for those up for the challenge.