Game Reviews

Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game

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| Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game
| Thor: The Dark World

Let’s face it - Thor is a tough sell to a modern audience.

Marvel’s mish-mash of Norse mythology, camp science fiction, and hammy olde worlde language lacks the dark cool of Batman, the teen-friendly snarkiness of Spider-Man, and the period rompiness of Captain America.

It’s only by giving his fanciful lore a knowing wink that the son of Odin's three screen appearances to date have proved such a success.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game, which has all the humour and subtlety of its title, hits the ground like a mystical hammer.

Storm brewing

T:TDW-TOG, to give it an even-more-ridiculous-but-shorter name, is a big dumb action-RPG.

Its chunky 3D approximation of Thor’s mystical realms are reasonably accomplished, although they could have been culled from any other generic RPG.

Meanwhile the game’s movement and combat systems resemble the point-and-click approach of PC classics like Diablo, but with none of the required depths hidden below the surface.

Touch the screen and Thor will run or power-dash forward to that point. Touch an enemy, and he’ll set about them with Mjolnir, his trusty hammer.

It’s evidently a way of simplifying combat situations that often involve a dozen or so parties, split between the forces of Asgard and those of your enemies spread across the nine realms. But it doesn’t really work.

Thou art trying mine patience

With the screen so frequently congested with chunky 3D beasts and glimmering soldiers (who can be summoned through dedicated virtual buttons), combat frequently feels like a screen-tapping lottery.

Thor’s combos look impressive in isolation, when he’s not attacking an unruly scrum, but they’re boringly automated.

You have a ranged attack at your disposal, Thor lobbing his hammer at distant enemies with a two-fingered tap, but this is unreliable in the field. Quite often, in the heat of battle (or when trying to target a hazard-deactivating switch), he’ll just blunder straight into trouble.

Equally irritating are those aforementioned automated soldiers, who insist on charging forward without you like impatient toddlers, frequently leading to their isolation and death.

By Odin’s beard

Still, with T:TDW-TOG’s fiddly controls and harsh difficulty level, it’s often the best tactic to keep sending your minions out to die and standing back in a manner most unbefitting a thunder god.

If we were cynical, we’d say that this punishing difficulty is designed to extract more money from you. And we are, so we will.

T:TDW-TOG charges you a lot of money for health potions - £1.49 / $1.99 will get you four - as well as for removing the cool-down timer on fallen allies. Meanwhile these allies - powerful support characters from the wider Thor universe such as Sif, Odin, and even Loki - cost mega-bucks to unlock.

It’s become a cliche to talk of movie-licensed video games as cynical cash-ins, but that’s precisely what Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game feels like. It approaches the Thor property and the wider iOS action-RPG genre the way its titular hero would a frost giant - bluntly and meanly.

Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game

As lunk-headed and clumsy as a drunken Viking, Thor takes a hammer to the action-RPG genre with its clunky controls and cynical IAP system
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.