Game Reviews

Aurora Feint 3

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| Aurora Feint 3
Aurora Feint 3
| Aurora Feint 3

Back in 2008, before it was sidetracked by the lure of its social gaming network technology, developer Aurora Feint released a series of well-regarded and eponymously named match-three role-playing games.

Aurora Feint 3 revisits the gameplay of these early instalments but instead of offering us the future, it's more concerned about going back to source than exploring new possibilities.

The big match

As with many iPad launch games, the main focus is graphics rather than gameplay. Beautiful artwork and crazy fantasy characters frame the 6x6 gameplay grid, which only takes up a small space at the screen's centre.

It's here that you make matches using elemental blocks. You can only move the blocks horizontally, so you have to rotate your entire iPad through 90 degrees to gain access to movement in both axes.

It's more cumbersome on the larger iPad than with an iPhone or iPod touch of course, but what's more concerning than the controls is the game's lack of progression. Winning doesn't come with much reward, with the role-playing nearly stripped from this sequel.

Get in first

You start a round by making matches to build up your health to full, which triggers the first of the ongoing enemy encounters of varying difficulty. Defeating your opponents means matching as many symbols as quickly as possible.

This reduces your enemy's health with a slash - however, they do the same to you and the battle ends when either of you run out of health.

You can counter by making a match just as your enemy is about to attack. You get a second or so warning to do so and if you succeed the amount of damage inflicted on you is reduced. Help also comes in the form of friend you can summon with a tap of the 'Call to Arms' button in the upper-left corner.

If the worst happens, you have to decide whether you want to spend cash to continue. Two hearts priced at €0.79 / 59p / 99c grant you two opportunities to continue your game if you're beaten during a battle. If you don't, you just have to replay the battle.

And as you get further into the game, the enemies get harder and your downtime between battles shorter, making the whole experience harder.

But that's it.

You do level up through the game, but at the moment it doesn't have any affect on the gameplay. Nor can you perform any of the role-playing elements or item collection that characterised games such as Aurora Feint II: The Arena.

Opportunity cost

Of course, since this is a free game you're not spending anything except your time by playing Aurora Feint 3, and it's worth the download thanks to its graphical and audio sheen. At the moment, though, there's little reason to prolong your experience.

One reason is that this is a game designed around a swathe of new features that define the OpenFeint social gaming network experience. Called OpenFeint X, it's designed to make it easy to release online games, and includes micro-transactions - features prominent in Aurora Feint 3.

The ability to call upon a friend to help out with a battle and even the way in which extra lives can be purchased have been integrated cleverly, yet these don't fill in gameplay gaps.

Without more depth to its RPG puzzle play, Aurora Feint 3 has difficulty being more than a pretty match-three.

Aurora Feint 3

Aurora Feint 3 gives you some idea of the potential for the RPG match-three fantasy series on iPad, but there's little meat on the bones as yet
Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.