Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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With the preponderance of clones of popular games like Threes! out there, when a developer sends an email touting their product as having gameplay elements not only inspired by Threes!, but of also having been given the blessing of Sirvo honcho Asher Vollmer, it’s bound to raise at least a few eyebrows. However the red flags and suspiciously narrowed side-eyes were actually not warranted in this case. Swipe & Slash actually does something pretty cool!
Rather than just being a quick re-skin, Swipe & Slash actually transforms the Threes! system of sliding and combining like-numbered tiles into the engine powering a rudimentary dungeon crawler of sorts. Now, instead of just combining tiles to make larger numbers until space is gone, the tiles here represent attacks (granting extra swings and more damage), potions (which heal damage), and gold (to purchase equipment between runs). The main character keeps gold and equipment from run to run, which makes the whole thing kind of vaguely like a distant, pixelated cousin of Infinity Blade. But without the Punch-Out!-style rhythms. And if the main character was a dog.
The actual dungeon aspect is more a visual conceit than anything else, but it gives players a more compelling reason to keep sliding tiles than just trying to reach the biggest numbers possible. In fact, such strategies are quite counterproductive in Swipe & Slash, as tiles have to be tapped and expended to remove them from the board and add them to a queue of actions during each fight.
Players have a set number of actions before each battle happens. Each slide of the tiles counts as an action, as does tapping a tile to queue it. So each action needs to be quickly evaluated against the damage and health of the monster in question. Got enough damage to kill it in one hit? Or perhaps it only deals a paltry amount itself? Then it’s probably okay to spend all your actions just mashing tiles together in anticipation of the harder fights to come. Equipment in the store enhances damage, healing rate, and gold value, and is randomly reshuffled every run.
It feels like the systems at play in Swipe & Slash are just on the cusp of something great, but not quite there. Still, it’s a ridiculously fresh take on the Threes! style of game and a lot of fun. My biggest complaints would be the lack of equipment variety and the fact that, after many rounds of mashing tiles to build up big bonuses, when these big boosts are finally played and the board mostly cleared it leaves players at a massive disadvantage against the tougher monsters that occur deeper into the level. Sometimes I might spend all four moves just getting tiles slid back onto all of the empty spaces, but not have any time to cue healing or bonus attacks, leaving me dead in a single hit. It seems like a rather fundamental flaw, but not one that couldn’t be addressed down the line. Perhaps defeating especially difficult bosses could scatter a couple of bonus tiles onto the board as a sort of loot? Just a thought.
Regardless, Swipe & Slash is definitely worth a look for puzzle and pixel fans alike.