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Aralon: Sword and Shadow

For:   Also on: AndroidiPhoneiPad
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An unrefined role-playing repast

Product: Aralon: Sword and Shadow | Developer: Galoobeth Games | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games | Format: Android | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | File size: 252.0MB | Version: US
Aralon: Sword and Shadow Android, thumbnail 1
An indulgent feast catering to the most dedicated of role-playing fans, Aralon: Sword and Shadow piles features high on its plate. From attribute enhancement and branching skill trees to item crafting and mounts, it's a veritable smorgasbord of gameplay.

As so often happens with such striking spreads, quantity unfortunately trumps quality. While the effort is admirable, developer Galoobeth and publishing partner Crescent Moon Games have bitten off more than they can chew.

Aralon: Sword and Shadow has all the features you could ask for in a role-playing game, except for all-important attention to detail. By prioritising the number of features and amount of content over the quality of gameplay, the game feels clunky and unfinished.

Unfinished business

To be clear, the issue isn't depth and value. Aralon possesses more gameplay than perhaps any other iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad game. Your quest to save the titular realm takes you through a sprawling kingdom of rivers, lakes, mountains, caves, deserts, and towns. There are three distinct races, tons of weapons and armour, an array of skills to learn, and enough quests to keep you busy for hours.

Enjoying this depth is difficult, though, because of clunky controls, an unrefined combat system, and a long list of assorted flaws that reveal the game to be incomplete.

Rather than succumbing to any one egregious flaw or missing feature, Aralon fails in its ambition for simply being unfinished. There's a distinct sense that the game needed more time before public release, as it possesses too many easily fixed errors and oversights.

Coming to gripes with the controls

The controls, for instance, shouldn't be this cumbersome. A curiously small analogue stick in the lower-left corner frequently interferes with the camera - your thumb regularly slips off the tiny stick, swipes the screen, and moves the camera instead of your hero.

An option to tweak the size and position of the analogue stick would solve this problem, but none is provided.

Combat targeting is seemingly intuitive, allowing you to tap to lock onto an enemy; however, it isn't sufficient for targeting enemies. Attacks frequently fail because your hero can't "see" the enemy, requiring you to find just the right position for an attack. While this doesn't completely ruin combat, it's inefficient.

Keeping it real

When it comes to combat itself, the game isn't any more satisfying. Despite having the appearance of real-time action, battles are rigid to the point of feeling turn-based.

Attacks are issued with taps of the weapon icon in the lower-right corner, while special abilities can be triggered using action hot keys along the bottom of the screen. One inventive feature is blocking, which can be done by hitting a 'shield' button.

The mechanics are right, but the flow is all wrong. Regardless of the rate at which you press the 'attack' button, you attack at a predetermined pace.

As a result, battles are a series of back and forth exchanges in which you attack, then the enemy attacks - it feels as though you're taking turns rather than attacking in real-time. Using skills spices things up a bit, yet hardly enough to make combat feel dynamic and exciting.

The list goes on

Numerous other issues degrade the experience. In some areas, platforms don't line up completely and you're unable to walk up steps or up to a path.

The graphics, of which much has been made, aren't always impressive. Characters are downright ugly, the draw distance is so short that full buildings, even mountains pop into view at a surprising range, and long loading times abound. At times, the lighting is so poor that you can't see your hero, let alone what's going on. To the game's credit, the world is large and packed with activity.

Many of these issues could easily have been addressed with more development time, which makes Aralon all the more disappointing. Only the most ardent of role-playing fans will be able to tolerate the game's score of flaws to enjoy the gameplay underneath.

The foundation for a compelling game is here, yet in loading up on features rather than focusing on quality gameplay, that potential is never realised.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 16 December 2010
While its ambitious scale is admirable, Aralon: Sword and Shadow possesses a myriad of flaws that yield clunky, unrefined gameplay
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Jan 2012
Post count:
scottrindal | 12:11 - 2 January 2012
Interesting review but over a year old !!!

I have only just started playing and while there do seem to be features that don't work I haven't noticed (on iPad) anything like the problems described.

Why are reviews left on this site that are so old? With upgrades from the developers this review is in effect for another game.
Jul 2011
Post count:
Gontear | 18:20 - 22 July 2011
The defensiveness is amusing.
I liked this game, but heck, I won't defend it. Because it's that bad.
The review is like the game though, in that it's unfinished. It only talked about less than half of the things that went wrong with this game.
Unpolished combat, bad char models, clipping issues, targeting issues, imbalance, lack of plot control (eg you can break your game by accidentally selling an all-important item, or kill an enemy you're not supposed to meet yet), useless attributes (strength does not increase damage, dodge is dependent on level difference and not agility, etc), incorrect skill descriptions (some "stun skills" don't stun, some raise strength by 10 when it says 30, etc) only to name A FEW.
This game was rushed, no question about it. What I want to know is, was it intended or not?
Anonymous | 14:54 - 11 February 2011
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Anonymous | 22:28 - 28 January 2011
this game is really good
you cant say anything wrong about it
Except the fact that it does glitch but over all superb game
Dec 2010
Post count:
MonSterpeter | 03:55 - 28 December 2010
Pretty please, because it would really be great.
Dec 2010
Post count:
MonSterpeter | 03:51 - 28 December 2010
Thank you sooo much for this honest review. I dont know know how many commenters here have been playing the ipad version, which might explain the defensiveness, but its truly unfinished. Id love to love it, because pbviously a lot of thought have been put into this game, but in reality playing it on the ipad feels like beta testing. Developers, if you are reading this: please work on the menues. I know you find it hard to upscale, but that simply means you will have to get somebody to re-draw it. No shortcuts, like blacking out the background will save you from looking like amateurs, as some above me has pointed out. I seldom engage in discussions about games but in this instance there is just so much wasted potential it makes me sick. I really wish this game would work on the ipad, but right now you should honestly consider pulling it from the store. Yes, its that serious. However theres an update coming our way, which, you never know, might contain texture improvements, enemy movement not limited to jumping back and forth, working camera during swimming, guild chest content, ipad loadscreens, ipad menus, updated loading tips that actually apply to the ipad version, flame torches with flame coming out from the torch and not characters head, autosave after defeated difficult enemy, longer respawns or the ability to skip directly to roaming after completed quest, automatic loot screens, ok ill stop or this comment will be way too long. Just finish the game please.
Anonymous | 05:57 - 17 December 2010
there all english what do you expect from a bunch of lager drinking moaning f*ckheads
Anonymous | 01:35 - 17 December 2010
^^^^^What he said.^^^^
If WE dont set the bar properly, then who will? Them?
Dec 2008
Post count:
klouud | 01:00 - 17 December 2010

Its that sort of mentality that is holding this platform back. There are plenty of titles on iOS that are of equal quality to the $40-60 PSP/DSi games out there.

The real issue is that the devs decided to make a release date instead of polishing the game the way it should be. It is ignorant to say: "well... its the best we got... throw a 10/10 at it". Thats just stupid! We must demand excellence from devs - and therefore we must also be willing to shell out a premium price point... which is really actually a deal @ $9.99.

If devs keep releasing Beta type versions to the public then customers are going to be scared to shell out for a launch price because they are afraid of adopting early which may or may not mean the game is not finished or it may go on sale for $0.99 soon. And the whole thing is a cycle that drives prices down, production value down, and drives devs away from the platform.

If we put up with rubbish then devs are going to give us rubbish.

I also agree with Voice of Light and Reason in that everyone is so hyped up about this game that they want to overlook all of the flaws because doing so will cause them to be disillusioned. And no one likes that...

Anonymous | 00:42 - 17 December 2010
I honestly have to AGREE with this review.

I have been playing it for the last day or so on my Ipod Touch 4, and I have to agree with what was said here. Trust me, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to like this game. But, it just doesnt satisfy fully yet. Perhaps, if they fixed the combat to make it TURN-BASED instead of realtime. And, fixed the controls and the enemy targeting it will fare much better.

Alot of people are just biased towards the game because of the hype associated with it. But, like chicken and steak, you can TASTE the difference. No amount of steak seasoning is going to make my chicken a steak. Period.

As it stands, this game is chicken.
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