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iPhone  header logo

Angel Sword

For: iPhone

Heavens to Betsy

Product: Angel Sword (iPhone) | Publisher: DVide Arts Incorporated | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Angel Sword (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1

According to Dante's Inferno, Hell is organised into seven circles of increasing pain and horror. Angel Sword justifies adding an eighth circle, one devoted entirely to over-priced, trashy iPhone apps that strike at the heart of pocket gamers everywhere. As the inscription to the gates of Hell reads, so is our warning for this lacking game: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Your quest to revive the titular Angel Sword begins when the once-peaceful red wizard willingly succumbs to darkness. Summoned by his counterpart, the blue wizard, you flutter about as a heroic angel tasked with defeating the red wizard. This is only possible by reviving the Angel Sword, which requires finding 20 pieces of special ore. With every five pieces your sword strengthens, granting access to new powers and areas – not to mention putting you one step closer to sending the red wizard to the underworld.

Angel Sword attempts to cull nostalgia with its 8-bit graphics and straightforward design, yet it's a failed effort. The visuals aren't stylized, they're downright ugly. For starters, the hero looks bug-eyed, more like a fly than an angel. Flat, monochrome environments feature less detail than classic retro titles. Even the music, which sounds more akin to remixes from The Legend of Zelda than original compositions, falters in evoking a nostalgic sentiment.

Of course, the real issue lies in the game's fundamentally narrow design. From poor utilisation of the touchscreen to poor combat mechanics to worryingly basic level design, Angel Sword is one of the worst role-playing games on iPhone to date. It's a hellish exercise in what not to do when role-playing, a game that will live in ignominy.

Foremost among its array of faults are the controls. Situated at the bottom of the screen is a directional pad and contextual action button used to navigate and interact with the gameworld. You're only able to move in one direction at a time; in other words, there's no diagonal movement. Even worse, you can't move and attack at the same time. Obviously, this creates enormous problems when it comes to dealing with the scores of enemies that scurry about the game's anorexic two-area adventure.

Between a blocky green forest and pyramid-ridden desert, you face red demons, black mages, and poisonous spitting cobras. Since you're unable to attack while in motion, the game forces you to inch toward enemies before striking. This tactic works on the crimson hellspawn, but taking on the mages that summon remote pillars of magic require hasty movements that are difficult given the unresponsive controls.

An egregious lack of variety means you face the same three enemies over and over again in the course of the 90-minute adventure. That same bland quality applies to the level design. The combat areas are entirely too small, featuring foes that regenerate seconds after they've been defeated. You literally can stand in place next to a fallen creature and watch it revive.

Avoiding enemies becomes the real challenge here, especially given how plain the rest of the game is. Conversing with villagers is a bore (not to mention riddled with grammatical and spelling errors), puzzles are nothing of the sort, and character development is totally lacking. Stumbling upon a heart upgrade every half hour doesn't qualify as proper role-playing.

And that's exactly the problem with Angel Sword: it's not a proper role-playing game. Ugly and narrow, only divine intervention could save this poor, poor effort from the many demons plaguing it.

Angel Sword
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 25 November 2008
Someone call a priest because Angel Sword is in dire need of an exorcism to rid it of its many flaws
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