Each week, we send out early codes of selected games to members of our App Army and ask for their feedback. One top pick this week was Alper Sarikaya's Sword of Xolan, a retro-styled hack and slash platformer.
Let's see what our App Army had to say...
Gabriela: One word for this game: addictive. I got pulled into this button-mashing platformer in no time and before I knew it two hours had passed.
Sword of Xolan is the perfect example that concept and gameplay is everything. It doesn't need things like super duper fancy graphics - the pixel art style is actually pretty soothing to the eyes. The game just feels right, even a little bit old school.
The enemies are varied, and the game comes at you with a challenge, while not making it frustrating or impossible to pass. You'll always find yourself searching for that third prisoner to free. I would definitely recommend everyone gives this a shot, even if platformers are not usually your cup of tea.
Curtis: From the moment I opened this up, I was transfixed on saving this village of people and defeating everything else. Well, the evil stuff, at least.
However, Sword of Xolan feels even more polished than most other platformers in terms of its controls and action. It's not only entertaining, but also addictive. The card system for upgrading your hero is a fresh take on that mechanic.
If they weren't so busy playing the game as I type, I'd give Sword of Xolan two thumbs up!
Jose: Sword of Xolan is one of those games that is so good, you wish it were better. The pixel art is gorgeous, the controls are tight, and the levels are complex but well designed.
The mechanics are a delight; I just wish that they were in a more original game. Everything in Sword of Xolan feels familiar, and even though that's clearly the intent, it doesn't make the game any less predictable. That said, Sword of Xolan is still a ton of fun.
Ryan T: So far, I've been thoroughly impressed with this game. The graphics give it a nice nostalgic vibe, while the actual gameplay is exquisite. I was skeptical about the control system when I first started playing, but it had ended up working fairly well.
I love several aspects of the game such as freeing prisoners or using fireballs to vanquish enemies. I really liked the introduction in terms of the plot and voice over. I'm not a huge fan of platformers in general, but I've certainly been won over.
My only major complaint at the moment is that it gets a little stale after a while. Fighting enemies and trying to unlock prisoners is fun, but it can get repetitive. Overall though, Sword of Xolan is a solid platformer in my eyes.
Kainen: These retro stylised games are everywhere at the moment. Some are good, but many are complete rubbish. Luckily for me though, Sword of Xolan is a not just good but great.
It's fun comes in its simple platformer stylings along with cards that offer power ups. There's a good range of monsters to slay with your sword and spells, and the sound design is spot on.
I really like how it sounds like the creator is narrating the game - it adds to the charm for me. I really recommend picking this one up.
Muneeb: I haven't played many platformers like this, but Sword of Xolan really clicked with me. I love how atmospheric it is. Initially I wasn't impressed by the introduction, but after getting to grips with the controls in the tutorial I started enjoying it a lot more.
The controls are really smooth, and I never experienced any lag or crashes at all. There's a good selection of monsters to battle, and the fighting mechanism is top-notch. It's easy to get to grips with, and you'll find some new monsters every time you play.
The only downer for me is the repetitive gameplay. For me the first act was great fun, but then it started to become dull. I hope as time passes the game will flourish and I'll be brought around again. I hope we see more of these games!
Brad: I think if we were to pretend that top-notch platformer Goblin Sword were a NES title, then Sword of Xolan would be it's "Super" SNES sequel. While resemblances between the two are numerous, Sword of Xolan offers a different take on things.
It's fresh and enjoyable while still feeling like it's scratching that same old sword-swinging, platform-hopping itch. With a separate challenge mode, an interesting character upgrade system, and truly fantastic enemies and animations, Sword of Xolan is yet another side-scrolling monster-basher, but one with its own unique flavour.
Kym: Sword of Xolan is like the love child of Rayman and Mario, but just like a child it is much more simplistic than both those titles. This retro style platformer is all about the playability.
On each level you have three villagers to rescue from locked cages (like Rayman). Two are relatively easy to find, but the third presents a challenge. Each level is short so it's easy to pick up and put down, so you feel like you are constantly winning.
However, the enemies are too predictable. They don't react to you at all, so most are easy to kill by just waiting until they turn their back. You also get the choice of using your sword or shooting fireballs at enemies (like Mario), so you can easily stay out of the way.
Having said that, I'm going back to play some more Sword of Xolan now!
Alyce: Sword of Xolan is close to being an almost pixel-perfect addition to the role-playing / platforming genre combo. People are waiting to be saved and monsters are walking and flying around, just waiting to be slain. I don't want to put this game away!
Aaron: I've been eagerly anticipating this game and I wasn't disappointed! The pixel art style and animation is gorgeous, and the controls are tight and smooth. I totally agree with Brad - this is like the SNES cousin of Goblin Sword, which is also a great game, but Xolan shines even more.
The level design is awesome, up there with Nintendo's finest. My only complaints: the game's a bit unforgiving. If you fail a level, you have to go back through all the different paths to rescue the same people again.
Also, I've been playing the game on an MFi controller, and WHO PUTS ATTACK ON THE "X" BUTTON!? I'm used to "A" being jump and "B" being attack, but Xolan has "X" as Attack and B"" as pause! The number of times I've paused the game while trying to slash a bad guy in the face is just ridiculous.
The sound effects are simply epic too! They sound like they've been recorded by the dev in his bedroom late at night, but you have to love the soundbytes...
Kym: Hey Aaron, I found you could change the button positions in settings. Don't know if it'd work on your controller but I found it handy for moving the fireball button away from the jump button!
Aaron: Thanks Kym... I had a look, but it seems controller buttons can't be changed. Still a great game though!
Kym: Anyone else finding the spikes more deadly than the enemies? I die from spikes more than anything!
Aaron: The spikes are lethal... I often end up on them when I'm trying to dodge the enemies. Speaking of which, does the guy that punches remind anyone else of the big, hairy monster from Monsters Inc.?
Kym: Argh! I can't find 3rd villager on level 8!
Aaron: Actually, that reminds me - I like how you're rescuing both male and female villagers... not just princesses for once!
Brad: I'm glad you mentioned the voice acting Aaron! I love his little one-off phrases. 'That's just what I needed!'
Curtis: Great points Brad and Aaron! SNES version of Goblin Sword for sure! The voice acting throughout really adds to the fun.
The App Army have spoken! If you'd like to sign up, please have a gander at our App Army application article.
Did you pick up Sword of Xolan? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!