App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Infinity Blade brought Punch-Out’s mechanics to a dark medieval mobile fantasy, and we all loved it. In many regards, Dawnbringer is just another spin to this concept.
It would not be completely unfair to state that Dawnbringer is derivative. However, the usage of known tropes is not necessarily detrimental. Games should be judged by the execution of these tropes, and often times, the different nuances among these contexts make a big difference.
The story begins with a fraternal rivalry, in which two ‘Celestials’ – like angels, but with a tinge of WoW machismo – plunge into a lesser world while fighting each other. After being banished from their heavenly realm, the two brothers are bound to this new world, brimming with demons and corruption.
After some magical display and fantastic jargon, you, as the younger brother, are tasked with ridding this terrestrial world of the evil invasion. In order to do so, you must travel the land, slaying demons and retrieving sets of keys from them.
Later on, you’ll use these keys to unlock parts of ancient lords, which somehow will restore normality to the world. The story is not very well delineated, if I’m honest – something that carries on throughout, often getting a bit confused about your objectives and motives.
There’s something incredibly cheesy about Dawnbringer’s lore, whether it’s the bulky, excessive and gaudy character models and their armour, or the colourful environments, contrasted with the character’s tough frown.
However, as a standalone world, Dawnbringer manages a level of self-awareness to achieve a fantasy that borders on the cartoony while never coming across as absurd. The stretching used in the animations just reinforces this: There is a certain light-hearted tone to the game.
Parry, swipe, swipe, swipe, parry
In order to find all keys, you tap the screen and your character sets off running, while dragging the camera will make him steer. This simplified control system merges quite seamlessly with the character’s animations when leaping over objects or destroying crates when you tap on them.
As you explore the world, you will find demons roaming around. Approach any of them and you’ll enter the battle mode, where they will telegraph their attacks, to which you must swipe accordingly in response.
If they’re slashing from the left, you have to swipe in that direction and parry their attack. If they’re trying to hammer you from above, you just swipe upward.
For every time you parry, you’ll have a couple of seconds to squeeze in as many slashes as you can. And you better not miss, as enemies’ health bars are always larger than yours, and their attacks more powerful.
This is especially true when it comes to boss fights, in which I have got stuck every single time. The way to bypass them easily is, as you imagine, by cashing out. This is where the in-app purchases come in.
With the gold and resources that you collect from the crates and chests across the world, you will be able to upgrade your equipment – your sword, your armour, etc. Alas, the amount of resources you get is never enough. To make up for this slow progress, you can always spend real-world currency and speed it up.
Dawnbringer starts off as a real challenge, and as you get the grasp of the game, the game stacks all it’s got against you. The real pity is that this tends to push you away from the game, rather than compel you to spend your money on it.