Forged Fantasy doesn't mess around. From the start you're hacking and slashing your way through a menagerie of fantastical beasts, finding fat chunks of loot, and discovering new characters to help you with your slaughter. And that slaughter is gorgeous - everything here is presented with AAA flourishes and a deep layer of polish. And there's a dude made out of rocks who can join your team and smash stuff.

I also seem to have a fish assassin and a yellow-clad, poison obsessed dominatrix on my side. Then there's a man who could well be made out of a tree, a cocky swordsman obsessed with ninjas, and a stern archer who, at least in the cut scenes, seems to want to be the leader.

They all have one thing in common - they really like to murder bad guys. Which is good, because that's the sole point of Forged Fantasy. Build your team of magical warriors, then kill everything that gets in your way, whether its computer controlled enemies or another player's team of heroes.

Forged in the fight

The game is to all intents and purposes an action RPG, but there's a twist. This is a midcore action RPG, so the control you have over your heroes is pared back, and the real thrust of the game lies in making sure that your gear and skills are powerful enough to take on the monsters and villains that it throws at you.

Once you're deep enough into the experience you're going to be taking a squad of five adventurers with you into every fight. You can switch between them on the fly by tapping on the portraits in the top left of the screen. Different heroes have different uses in battle - there are tanks, damage dealers, and healers, as well as a vast array of different magic users.

You're going to need to put the work in if you want to get all the characters, and there are plenty of different modes to attack. You'll unlock guild raids, co-op raids, solo raids, PvP, special challenges, and events. A lot of them have energy systems and reset counters, but every time you load up the game you're going to have something to do.

Forged Fantasy iOS review screenshot - Taking aim against an Orc

After all, that's sort of the point. Forged Fantasy is a game that demands you pop in regularly. From unlocking daily awards to working your way through the various challenges, you'll dive into the game for half an hour and upgrade your heroes, unlock some new levels, and earn a whole bunch of gold.

There are a lot of different mechanics going on in the menus. Your characters, for example, have a number of attributes that you need to buff up. There's their gear, which you collect and craft, and when you've filled every slot you can promote the hero. There's also XP, which increases individual heroes' levels, and team XP which increases your level. A character can't be a higher level than you, so you need to collect both types.

Your characters also have a star rating that you can increase, special skills you can unlock and upgrade, and more. You don't have to keep track of all of this, because the game lets you know when there's something ready to upgrade. You'll also get tips about what you need to strengthen up in the character screen.

Forged Fantasy iOS review screenshot - Casting a healing spell

Right now you're probably thinking you know exactly what sort of game Forged Fantasy is, but the fact of the matter is that it defies expectations at every corner. It might not be a fully fledged ARPG, but the action it does deliver is some of the finest we've seen on mobile for a long time.

That stems from the cinematic nature of the combat. This isn't just two teams stood opposite one another, unleashing attacks when it's their go - instead your characters are sprinting around, darting into cover, and charging into danger with the sort of swagger you wish you had.

Even when you give control over to the game, which you're going to be doing more often as you get deeper into the experience, the violence has a flow to it that you're going to find it difficult to take your eyes off. Even the writing here is pretty good, with the odd zinger thrown in from time to time.

Forged uncanny valley

Yes, there are some people who are going to think that Forged Fantasy is the worst game ever, but those people are incorrect. This is a tightly paced and well balanced experience that you can give as much or as little time to as you want.

Players looking for something really weighty to suck them in will find that here - it's just that the weight isn't contained in the sword swings and magic spells, it's in the numerical dance that goes on in the menus and behind the scenes. You'll get beaten, and then you'll head out to other corners of the world to try and make sure it doesn't happen again.

Forged Fantasy delivers on almost everything that it sets out to do. It's gorgeous, compulsive, and you're going to find yourself entangled in its web of numbers, violence, and character growth for a lot longer than you might have been expecting.