God of Blades
With God of Blades, developer White Whale Games channels 1970s sci-fi/fantasy magazines with a universe overflowing with hostile alien worlds, cosmic entities and visually-stimulating set pieces. This far-out 2D runner doesn't necessary have the most polished combat, but the attention-grabbing presentation makes up for the largely repetitive touch screen swipes. Suffice to say, it looks like nothing we've seen before on iPhone and iPad.
Set within outer space, presumably in a galaxy far away from ours, a dead king rises from the grave and sets off to protect his world from an army of rampaging monsters. That said, the decomposed monarch runs across a 2D plane, with enemies of different sizes approaching from the right. From there, you execute one of four maneuvers and the king responds in kind, bringing his sword up or down, delivering a powerful slash or parrying, which is the only way to avoid incoming strikes. Not only that, but each sword has its own special attack, and these range from fireballs that singe opponents to a horrifying void that inhales them instantly. Good thing it's on your side, eh?
Admittedly, the combat is quite basic and fails to evolve over time; you simply unlock new weapons. What's more, it takes a while to get the hang of things, largely because it's tough to gauge when you should swing, and the king will often get knocked back. Ultimately, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and the hero will need to die (again) before you master the fighting. Fortunately, an Endless Mode gives you the opportunity to do exactly that, as you charge through waves of progressively difficult creeps.
With this in mind, the sword slashing remains quite intriguing, since it's possible to flip enemies into each other for easier kills. Beyond that, you'll notice tiny details, like helmets and swords disappearing into the background, or the king's reflection in water.
Those aesthetics perfectly fit into the greater picture, that aforementioned presentation the developers so exquisitely nailed. Levels showcase artwork seemingly ripped from the 60s and 70s, while cut scenes are a delightful mix of dark reds, blues and purples. In game, projectiles decimate armies, and humongous creatures wander across the screen. Meanwhile, 70s inspired rock blares in the background, a welcome addition that compliments the game's visual splendor.
It's just a shame that, for all this graphical and aural stimulation, the fighting mechanics are so basic. Nevertheless, God of Blades manages to rise above its issues and carve a spot in our App Store collection. With the possibility of free updates in the future, we have a feeling this otherworldly adventure will take its place among the stars.
What's Hot: Addictive and almost rhythmic sword fighting, beautiful graphics and music pay homage to 1970s sci-fi/fantasy magazines, Endless mode.
What's Not: Flawed combat, strange library feature.