Hands on with the stunning and innovative Infinity Blade

First impressions of ChAIR's Unreal Engine 3 action RPG

Hands on with the stunning and innovative Infinity Blade
| Infinity Blade

What makes Infinity Blade truly impressive isn't its glittering graphics, but the promise of compelling, in-depth gameplay. Rare is a game that can inspire awe in both regards but this iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad exclusive game may very well be one such title.

Playing a preview build of the game that's due for release next week, the visuals are nothing short of astounding.

Id's RAGE takes a second seat to what developer ChAIR has managed with Unreal Engine 3 - though after a quick play through the first part of the game, it's striking how it also balances role-playing elements and straightforward controls to provide an engrossing experience.

A new generation

As a nameless warrior trudging to the throne of the infamous God King, your task is to defeat this despotic immortal. It's a futile quest - the game's opening moments chronicle your death, the titular Infinity Blade thrust through your torso in a shocking turn of events. Time forwards 20 years and you take control of your son who vows to exact vengeance on the God King.

The game is structured according to bloodlines, each level played as a descendant seeking to kill the God King. It's a unique plot device, particularly when you consider that your experience and inventory carries over from one generation to the next. That continuity is critical because it's the equipment acquires experience from combat.

Along with contributing to your general level, experience accumulates with each piece of armour you wear, along with your equipped weapon.

Earn enough experience and you master a weapon or piece of armour, increasing its effectiveness and unlocking a bonus skill point for raising your core attributes (health, attack, shield, and magic power). Not only does this system motivate you to engage in battle, but it instills the game with depth.

Sword fighting

Combat itself is surprisingly varied, despite initial worry over the gesture-based control scheme. Contrary to conventional wisdom, battles aren't turn-based; instead, they play out in real-time with deliberate swipes, taps, and gestures drawn on the screen to attack, block, and cast magic.

Depending on your timing, you're able to block incoming attacks, dodge them by tapping left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen, or parry by swiping a finger in tandem with your opponent's attack. It's not a scribbling affair - you're encouraged to observe enemies as they prepare attacks, block to avoid damage, and think tactically.

There's also a combo system where you earn extra experience for stringing attacks and landing mega hits.

Managing expectations

If any red flags are to be raised, it would be the game's restrictive exploration element.

While you're free to scour each area for gold, potions, and treasure chests, you're not allowed to wander freely; instead, you must stick to a predefined path and position the camera to search for goodies by sliding a finger across the screen. Frankly though, it's not that big of a deal considering how entertaining the game is as a whole.

Further questions to be raised now revolve around the game's staying power and how multiplayer fits into the picture. At release, only the single player campaign will be offered; multiplayer comes in a later update. The fantastic presentation and engrossing gameplay ought to tide us over during the wait however.

Infinity Blade will be available as a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on December 9th at a price of £3.99/$5.99.
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.