Geek: Side-scrolling RPG action; huge scope for customisation; hour of gameplay; free
Weak: Average graphics; sluggish controls; too easy; boring
Any game that borrows elements from the legendary, though little-know, Sega Saturn and latterly Xbox Live Arcade fantasy RPG side-scrolling action romp Guardian Heroes is a Very Good Thing indeed, so I was excited to get my hands on Sword of Inferno, which promises to be a mobile version of the latter.
Indeed, similarities are immediately obvious, from the side-scrolling battles, to the magic spells, hordes of enemies and ability to level up and develop your characters. It ticks a lot of boxes in a big way. Presentation is excellent, with a lovely anime look to the characters, nicely presented menus and decent music and sound effects but the gameplay sadly fails to meet expectations and lets the game down in a big way. The biggest problem is just how sluggish your characters feel – the move like they are running through treacle, are unresponsive and it takes an to move around the stages. These look a little bland and are made of separate screens, where once all the enemies have been defeated you can then proceed to the next one. Here we encounter the game’s second problem – how uninvolving it is. There’s no attack button – you simply walk up to an enemy and your character will launch into a pre-programmed combo, requiring you to do nothing more than move him or her into the correct position to hit the enemy and wait for them to do. There are some pretty potent and impressive-looking magic spells that you can summon, but there’s little point wasting them on the weaker enemies, and as there’s a delay between the end of the charging-up screen and the attack coming out, spells that work in a single area can often be avoided by enemies simply walking slowly away from you while you wait for your magic to kick in. And the game is easy, so much so that I had to stop playing because I was bored. The story is suitably complex and convoluted, and you have to go and accomplish a task, like rescuing your kidnapped friends who can then be selected as your player character, or as a computer-controlled nuisance that won’t do anything useful and will get killed, but each missions is basically the same: go to a location, treacle-walk through a couple of screens populated by weak, poorly-animated enemies and then beat the boss. Rinse and repeat.
There are some cool touches, like riding around on a dragon for example, some of the bosses, like a dragon for example, are pretty tough and present a genuine challenge, and being able to play as and with various characters as well as being able to upgrade their armour and equip them with better weapons is a nice touch. And it’s a long game too, though the lack of pace makes it feel longer still, so it will keep you playing for some time if it can hold your attention, though as with most RPGs, replay value is non-existent. Ultimately, it’s free, so worth a punt just don’t expect too much.
Verdict: It promises a lot, but Sword of inferno is a disappointment. While there’s a lot to get through and there are some nice touches, it’s too slow, too easy and too boring to excite or entertain. Worth a go for free, though.