Modern RPGs may seem pretty hardcore to casual players, but as any genre veteran will gladly tell you, they don't have anything on the classic titles of yesteryear.
Games like Origin's Ultima were obtuse, unforgiving, and completely lacking in guidance - yet through inflicting such hardship they delivered an experience which arguably hasn't been matched since.
9th Dawn is hoping to reclaim those glory days. It's a mobile-based RPG which wouldn't have looked out of place on a DOS PC back in 1990. The humble 2D visuals belie a fiendishly challenging and wholly addictive world, where every turn holds a secret and each new path could end in a grisly death.Sword and sorcery
Once you've selected your class - Knight, Archer, or Mage - you venture out into the unremitting world of Montelorne, a once-peaceful continent which is now ravaged by monsters and evil spirits.
The hamlet of Agaria serves as your starting point, but having spoken with the inhabitants and tooled yourself out accordingly it soon becomes time to strike out into the wilderness.
It's here that 9th Dawn gives you its first taste of disappointment. The twin-stick controls are unwieldy, with combat proving particularly irksome if you've selected the melee-focused Knight class.
The right-hand stick controls the direction of your blow, but actually getting it to connect with a monster at close quarters is often an exercise in frustration. Practice allows you to master the controls, but you'll have died (and respawned) several times over before you get to this point.
9th Dawn's menu-driven interface can also provide some annoyances, largely because each process seems to take more taps than it needs to. Add to this some tiny menu boxes, and you've got a title which is much easier to play on a tablet than a mobile phone.
Thankfully, there is the option to zoom-in on the action to get a better idea of what's biting your character's ankles at any given moment.Role play
If you've got the willpower to fight through 9th Dawn's problems then you'll find a vast and expansive world awaits you. Quests are offered in abundance and the island is literally bursting with secrets to uncover.
As with PC RPGs of yore, the appeal of 9th Dawn lies in the fact that you're expected to find everything out for yourself. The sense of discovery - and the reward that comes with it - is keenly felt throughout all parts of the game.
9th Dawn's archaic interface and sometimes awkward controls do little to dampen the enjoyment of the game. It's clearly going to be better suited to stalwarts of the genre than wet-behind-the-ears newcomers, but this heartfelt tribute certainly deserves a look from all players.