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For: iPhone

Really old skool

Product: Axion | Developer: Neowiz Mobile | Publisher: Neowiz Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.0
Axion iPhone, thumbnail 1
There's a fine line between old skool and just plain old.

Axion walks that line, frequently stumbling into ancient mobile gaming territory in its attempt to recast an original mobile role-playing release into a shiny touchscreen adventure.

Unfortunately, fundamental issues with the design from control and interface flaws to odd rules for character customisation and fiddly menus all undermine its good ideas.

Living weapon Axion has been summoned back from the abyss to save the world of Middle Earth from the god of darkness Balinor. Despite wanting to exercise free will, he's ultimately compelled to defeat the minions of the dark deity in order to prevent his own destruction.


After selecting one of four classes - Attacker, Defender, Ranger, or Adventurer - you're set to hack apart sprite enemies across an array of environments in pursuit of experience points. Each class focuses on a particular combat tactic such as melee attacks, defensive manoeuvres, or ranged attacks. However, you're free to use any equipment and acquire skills without restriction.

Points awarded when levelling up can be allocated to three attribute modifiers or feats (referred to as 'special skills') selected at the start of the game, as well as to active and passive skills. In simple terms, you're able to divvy points to unlock and enhance existing abilities. It's a familiar setup with slight tweaks for distinction.

Equipment is another area of customisation, yet here Axion begins to show its duel nature. A robust item crafting system enables you to collect all kinds of ingredients for the purpose of synthesising status scrolls, potions, and other trinkets. Its wonderfully open and well-scripted side quests walk you through the process.


When it comes to equipment such as swords, armour, boots, and the like, the game exacts puzzling restrictions on use. Arbitrary level requirements prevent regular equipment upgrades. New equipment can only be donned at every tenth level. Level requirements for equipment aren't unusual, but the large intervals set here are downright bizarre.

As if to further discourage loot lust, menus are awkwardly controlled via the virtual D-pad and buttons instead of direct touch. Sifting through item and equipment menus is a chore. It's a telltale sign that the game originated on mobile because the interface clearly is designed for physical buttons, not a touchscreen.

The same problem bleeds into general exploration and combat, where the virtual controls cover up an obscene percentage of the screen. Amazingly, the D-pad obscures the entire bottom-left corner from view whenever you're wandering about in a non-combat area. You can often enter an area and not see your character on the screen.


Increasing the opacity of the heads-up display alleviates this problem when in combat, though there are other issues to contend with. Axion generously allows you to switch on-the-fly between melee and ranged weapon by sliding horizontally across the attack key. This is a problematic arrangement, though, since you can accidentally switch weapons when intending to execute a basic attack.

It's a shame the controls and interface aren't better because Axion has an interesting premise. The iffy localisation makes understanding every minute plot point a challenge, though you can still find some enjoyment in beating up enemies in the nicely detailed environments.

The small amount of joy to be squeezed from the game is countered by the patience required in putting up with its shortcomings. Axion is quite frankly ill-suited to iPhone and iPod touch. While it has some interesting role-playing elements, the execution leaves much to be desired.
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 22 June 2010
Axion features good role-playing hampered by myriad design flaws including a poor interface and clunky controls
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