Infinity Blade: Touch UI meets Swordplay
by Matthew F. Hibben
Publisher/Developer: Chair Entertainment, Epic Games
Release Date: Dec 9, 2010
Mobile devices like the iPad continue to rise as established platforms for mobile gaming. With the addition of a purely touch based UI including motion sensing, the iPad opens up new ways to approach combat. This week's GameTech article looks at Infinity Blade for the iPad and explores a game that takes combat to new levels.
The game has very impressive graphics, clearly showcasing Epic's Unreal Engine 3. The game starts out with some basic combat tutorials that allow the player to learn the moves in a simplified, no risk manner. This combat tutorial is the first glimpse at what combat is like in Infinity Blade, a truly action oriented experience. The game uses directional swipes and taps to produce many combinations of attacks. The motion based way attacks are produced, mixed with the advantage of producing faster swipes really pulls the player right into the combat.
Basic Mechanics and Gameplay
Infinity Blade is a combat oriented linear game. The basic premise of the game is to ascend a castle fighting a series of single combat battles and finally reaching the pinnacle to face off against the game's antagonist, the immortal God King.
This basic layout is repeated indefinitely, resetting the player back to the start of the castle as a "descendant" upon defeat by the God King. Your descendant is effectively you in the sense that all of your levels gained are carried over. At first glance this seems very basic and perhaps even monotonous, but the combat system, rich duels that scale sharply, as well as the armory system bring a lot of charm to this game.
Combat as stated earlier is all based on swipes and taps. Combat is essentially more a series of progressively harder duels, than a regular hack and slash. Combat requires the player to pick and choose very quickly at times what type of avoidance tactics they will use, ranging from parrying, dodging, to shield blocking. Each of these types of avoidance tactics have very different ways of executing them, as well as different opponent types that favor one versus the other. Using these avoidance types, the player after a series of successful evades opens up a hole in the enemy's defenses. These holes allow the player to unload a series of frantic swipes, that really pull the player right into the combat system as you constantly try to squeeze in more and more swipe combinations before the enemy recovers. In addition to basic sword attacks the player also gets special sword moves that are limited in use and have a gauge that must fill up first before the move can be executed. The player can also use spells which vary based on what the player is equipping. One spell might require the player to quickly draw out a circle, another a square, another a zigzag, all while trying to avoid enemy attacks.
The Armory System
Another very cool component to the game is the armory system. As the player advances in level, the player also masters the gear that he or she is wearing, and once a piece of gear is mastered the player is awarded additional skill points that are also gained when leveling up. There is an in-game shop that the player may access during the victory screen that allows for new items to be purchased and equipped to replace the "mastered" ones. I'll also note that a lot of care went into the modeling of all these armor and weapons, they definitely rock.
If combat is what you're after for iOS then Infinity Blade is the way to go. Like all apps, Infinity Blade is very cost effective. Infinity Blade is $5.99, and for the amount of quality playtime it really can't be beat. With the rich graphics and engaging combat system I can definitely see other action oriented games for touch based systems following suit.
Infinity Blade Video Review