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iPad  header logo

 IPAD PREVIEW

Hands-on with Spirit Lords - Kabam mashes up Pokémon with Final Fantasy

Spiritual successors

Product: Spirit Lords | Publisher: Kabam | Genre: Action, Multiplayer, RPG
For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone
 
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“Pots are evil and must die,” Daniel Erikson sagely informs me, before shattering a particularly stalwart piece of crockery.

No, Kabam’s senior director of design has not developed an irrational phobia - and no, neither has he created an over-zealous method of washing up.

He’s guiding me through the world of Spirit Lords, a game that won’t be constricted by the “mobile RPG” moniker. This is an RPG on mobile.

Smashing pots for loot, dungeon crawling, rich storylines, dynamic combat, multiplayer and customization are all pre-requisites for any RPG worth its salt, but sadly many mobile games in the family recipe book lack that particular seasoning.

Spirit Lords seeks to change this. It’s a mobile multiplayer RPG set in the last human city of a world that was destroyed a thousand years ago by a war between the Spirit realm and the physical universe.

01

You are an explorer, investigating the ruins of the old empire when an ancient evil rises up to threaten everything you hold dear. The first person to have seen a Spirit in a millennium, you must now become a Spirit Lord to harness the ancient beings' powers and save the last stronghold of humanity.

A stressful job, really. So now you understand the pot smashing.

You can choose to be a Barbarian or a Sorcerer - and craft their appearance down to the last freckle – or you can unlock over 200 unique combat abilities by collecting Spirits and upgrading their powers.

Over 300,000 customisation combinations are available to your hero as they travel through a range of different worlds populated by a cast of unique races.

02

The controls have been designed using touchscreen gestures. You walk around by tapping the location you wish to go, and your hero will automatically attack if you tap an enemy.

To inject strategy in to combat, you can tap, drag, and double tap different combinations to engage powerful combos and special abilities. It’s a control system that seeks to celebrate mobile, rather than trying to shoehorn console controls into a mobile RPG.

The Spirits themselves act a bit like Pokémon, designed around an elemental system and used to battle in dungeons.

They can be collected by winning battles, or completing “Spirit Missions” that send your current Spirits to recruit new additions while you’re away from your phone. Choosing your Spirits carefully before battle is vital, as each has weaknesses and strengths against certain elements.

3

However, a risk vs. reward system means that greater rewards are made available to the player who pushes the boundaries of what their Spirits are capable of.

Still, the storyline is one of Spirit Lords’ greatest strengths. While the game’s design is delightfully cartoony with colourful fantasy vistas, the narrative is surprisingly dark and unfolds slowly to draw the player into the richness of this world.

Pithy one-liners and dry sensibilities are the order of the day here, penned by veterans from Star Wars: The Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins.

The first 50 levels of Spirit Lords are launching on iOS and Android on April 16th, and will be free to play.
 

Reviewer photo
Alysia Judge 27 March 2015
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