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For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Divine intervention

Product: Archangel | Developer: Black Tower Studios | Publisher: Unity Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Action, RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Archangel iPad, thumbnail 1
According to Archangel, the supernatural being of the title has a life rather akin to a fireman's.

He spends a great deal of his time lounging about and snoozing, only to be rudely awoken and shoved into an urgent life-or-death situation without so much as a cup of coffee to bring him around.

Archangel the game is similar, lobbing you straight into the hack-and-slash action without so much as a cutscene. It rarely lets up from there.

Angels with dirty maces

Archangel's no-nonsense forward motion is one of its strongest points. Even when this dungeon-crawling action-RPG hits one of its many monotonous patches, its sheer sense of momentum carries you through.

You play a winged warrior woken up after many centuries of slumber to combat the forces of darkness. It's all pretty predictable, one-dimensional stuff, but hey - at least you're not playing as a barbarian or a wizard.

Actually, your character is a bit of both. Your primary attack is a ranged fireball, which can be lobbed at enemies just as fast as you can tap the screen. Holding down builds up a stonkingly powerful spread attack.

You can also dish out brutal melee attacks by swiping through your righteous warrior, which sends lesser enemies onto their backsides (and often off the edge of a precipice).

Wings of steel

Some of Archangel's combat options feel appreciably fresh. Those aforementioned ranged attacks can often be launched on enemies that are in a different part of the level to you and oblivious to your presence, since the game's twisting level design offers you elevated vantage points.

Other bright options include drawing a wall of fire on the screen, which is great for keeping groups of enemies at bay.

The star of the show, though, is the resurrection ability. At any time you can bring a recently deceased enemy back into commission, only this time as one of your minions.

Yep, even one of the really large tough ones. It sounds like it might break the game, but it doesn't. It can get extra tasty when you face an enemy with the same ability, who then turns your minion back on you.


IAPs explained
The maker of Archangel isn't too heavy-handed with the IAPs, which is good.

You can go through the game acquiring new equipment without paying more cash, though certain optional items require you to splash out if you want them.

You can also purchase more coins if you so wish, starting from 69p for 10,000 and stretching up to £17.99 for 1 million.
If Archangel's combat frequently feels fresh, its level design and art style rarely manages the same feat. You might expect the tonal shift from the usual Tolkien-esque fantasy tropes to lead to some interesting environments, but these levels seem to be full of disappointingly banal stone causeways and crumbling ruins.

There's also little disguising the fact that you're just walking through these fairly linear corridors (even when they split, they soon join up again) smacking groups of enemies around. Moving platforms, wave-based arena stages, and even sections that require you to teleport across gaps can't disguise the simplistic nature of the gameplay.

Nor can the expected introduction of interchangeable weapons and armour, which can be found or purchased from a shop in between levels.

Still, we liked the ability to bet a level's loot on your success in the following level. It's a nice risk-reward system if you want to add an extra dose of tension.

Cherubic looks

This being the first game published by game engine-maker Unity, you'd expect Archangel to look good and perform well. It doesn't disappoint.

We spent most of our time playing on an iPad 3, which is getting on a bit now, and we didn't notice any slowdown at all. This is despite some detailed 3D models and lots of fireballs and other lighting effects being thrown around simultaneously.

It's not exactly the best-looking iOS game out there, but it's a rock-solid performer.

Which sums Archangel up to perfection, really. Tossed into the unforgiving arena of touch-driven dungeon-crawlers, it acquits itself very well. Just don't expect anything transcendent.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 10 January 2014
Archangel is a well-crafted dungeon-crawler with a handful of nice touches, but it could use a little more spark and imagination in its world design and core gameplay
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