Game Reviews

Elven Chronicles (iPhone)

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Elven Chronicles (iPhone)

There are more sticking points in Elven Chronicles than just elf ear tips. A poster child for the classic role-playing game, this soulless adventure also demonstrates the trouble in porting old titles to new devices.

Clunky controls, cumbersome menus, poor graphics, and underwhelming gameplay makes it a chronicle of lesser role-playing games of the past.

You take up the sword of the exiled knight Rogan who, accompanied by the lovely sorceress Jada, endeavours to redeem himself through a series of dangerous quests. The real danger isn't the pixelated baddies that sweep across the world map in iconic tornado form, but boredom.

Rogan's adventure is decidedly unremarkable in every way from the routine missions to the simplistic battle system to limited character development options.

Elven Chronicles successfully aims to replicate classic role-playing, but in doing so it forfeits originality. The story is hackneyed, the quests trite, and the characters wholly unremarkable. Running around for hours collecting minerals and moss doesn't make for a compelling experience.

Without a narrative drive, the game relies on bland battles and pathetically plain character development. Combat is turn-based, letting you launch physical and magical attacks with taps of a finger.

Such a basic setup would be palatable if battles weren't so painfully predictable. There's absolutely no tension: the regulated nature of combat removes any sense of surprise or real challenge.

It doesn't help that you're restricted in how your characters progress, which therefore limits actions available to you in battle. Upon levelling up, you're given no say in how attributes increase or what abilities are unlocked.

New attack skills and magic spells are doled out at set levels, preventing any control over customisation. At least you're afforded freedom in equipping your party, though even this has its issues.

A web of menus makes outfitting your characters a chore. It takes flipping through three menus before you can swap out weapons on a single character. When shopping for new equipment, the game fails to display a comparison to your current equipment, so you have to move back and forth between several menus to determine if an item is an improvement or not.

The cumbersome interface is matched by equally clunky controls. A virtual D-pad would be superior to the tap anywhere control scheme currently employed.

Precise control over movement is unsurprisingly a problem, particularly when you attempt to initiate conversation with other characters. It's common to saunter up right next to another character only for the game to refuse to start the necessary conversation.

For all its design deficiencies, the game's true failing is its lack of energy and excitement. Elven Chronicles is so pedestrian, so dry, that it makes a tabletop game of Dungeons & Dragons feel like visceral warfare. At least the latter affords precise control and customisation over its pieces as consolation for its slower, more methodical play.

There's no penance for this poor port, which clearly should remain a chronicle of the mobile role-playing past.

Elven Chronicles (iPhone)

Underwhelming in every way, Elven Chronicles fails to conjure gameplay worthy of its nostalgic inspiration
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.