Dark Avenger's vanilla-sounding title is apropos, since this standard issue dungeon crawler is devoid of a plot. Not that one needs much purpose in these sorts of action RPGs, where the primary goals involve slaughtering monsters and grabbing the precious loot these terrible fiends leave behind. To that end, the developers at Gamevil did an OK job, with cool weapons and gear guaranteed to transform your dual-blade-carrying hero into a creature's worst nightmare. The inclusion of Time Attack, the Infinity Tower and even online Death Match are unexpected bonuses.
If you've played the likes of Blizzard's Diablo and Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter franchises, then you already know what to expect. You plow through a series of bite-sized levels pummeling baddies, with the occasional wooden barrel to smash and treasure chest to kick open for gold. Leveling up is key, since it's nearly impossible to beat later stages with the most basic weapons and equipment. Thus, you quickly find yourself stuck in the upgrade race, swapping out the Dull Blade for the superior Templar Blade, then slipping into hoods, cloaks, gloves and shoes to further boost the character's health, attack, armor and other important categories.
What ensues is decent hack-and-slash entertainment. The floating analog stick makes controlling the hero simple enough, and having one attack button with three special attacks surrounding it means players of all skill levels should have little trouble laying the smack down. The fact that Gamevil keeps the levels brief, in particular, is of key importance, since this allows smartphone and tablet users to get their monster bashing fix in minutes per day.
There are some kinks, of course, the most obvious being the absence of a roll/evade button. You wind up baiting enemies into going through their attack animations before counterattacking, which takes quite a bit of time with bosses. If you fail to constantly repeat this action, the hero takes excessive damage since you are unable to avoid claw swipes and energy blasts while going through your own stabs and lunges.
Health and Mana potions are yours to buy, naturally, but using one means having to wait several seconds until using the second. It's OK to put cool down timers on special attacks, but potions? Not a great idea.
Where Dark Avenger redeems itself, mostly, is with its smooth-running gameplay (with the option to lower graphics quality for less powerful devices) and the aforementioned modes. Time Attack proves useful for scoring more gold and valuable Forge Stones to make upgrades. The Infinity Tower, on the other hand, sends you on a seemingly endless mission to reach new waves of enemies on a single health bar. Death Match, meanwhile, takes less than a minute to set up, and before you know it, you hack your way through different opponents from around the world. To be fair, though, this is more of a distraction from single-player, since online suffers from quite a bit of lag and a general lack of strategy overall.
There's a great chance you'll run into the usual in-app purchase wall that ultimately mars free-to-play video games, but for the most part (and given what it is), Dark Avenger is a decent though unremarkable iPhone and iPad effort that'll give you something else to play in between releases. With this title, the less you expect, the more it entertains.
What's Hot:Addictive hack-and-slash action, game throws multiple enemies on screen, lowering the graphics quality for older devices, fine collection of loot to purchase, variety of special attacks.
What's Not:No plot to speak of, only one type of character, lag-filled online play, performance takes a hit when things get crazy.