Last week, during our normal Game Friday Roundup post, Marius mentioned Swordigo and said, “The fluid, 2.5D environment is gorgeously rendered in a colourful art style, and the controls are unobtrusive as you plumb the depths of dungeons and best your foes.” I remember stuttering when I read “2.5D,” but after looking at the screenshots I got the gist of what he was talking about and continued about my normal activities.
But then the next day, my wife comes into my office and says, “Have you played Swordigo? If not, you should do a review on it. It’s awesome.” After a brief download, I found myself tapping away on my iPhone’s glass, ready to head off on another quest. But would I come back with treasures beyond compare or just a bad case of sword rash? Let’s find out.
An Epic Adventure
The word “epic” gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but when it comes to Swordigo, that’s a pretty apt descriptor. You play a normal guy (well, as normal as a boy with a long, blue ponytail can be) and you discover that your master is killed. To get revenge — and save the world — you have to reassemble this sword that’s been scattered about the countryside. That’s essentially how you begin your quest.
If this seems reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda series of Nintendo games, well that’s not too shocking because the plotline, characters and even the sound effects all seem to have roots in that very popular adventure line — and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s so similar that I swear the sound of a gate opening in Swordigo is the same noise used in the original Legend of Zelda when a hidden door is found.
OK, so it looks and seems a lot like the Zelda series, but how does it play? Typically, a game like this would cause my hands to cramp up from trying to hit the virtual joystick and missing, but that’s not the case with Swordigo. Not only are the buttons large enough to touch, but because of their placement, they’re pretty easy to use. I played for several hours without worrying about getting hit by the enemy because I couldn’t find the attack button, and that was refreshing.
But this is also essentially a side scroller, so there really is just left, right and jump to contend with. Yes, there is an attack button and that comes in pretty handy for whacking all the baddies that come your way, but again, none of these things ever get in your way or get lost among the rest of the icons. That’s pretty fancy.
I once read a review about app reviewers (how very meta), and in it the reviewer said that most app reviews he reads nowadays sound like they came from someone who played with the app for 10 minutes and then wrote about it. I took that a bit personally because it’s never been the case here, and that’s always in my head when I pick up a new app to review. So with Swordigo, I made sure to give it a thorough wringing through just to be sure.
All of a sudden, four hours of my life was gone. I found myself playing the game constantly, whether I was in a doctor’s office waiting for an appointment or just lounging around and telling my wife I was “being productive.” Since there is no guidance or map to the game that really makes sense, you’re left to your own devices — meaning, you can play for hours and wonder if you’re going to beat the game, but never really be sure. Needless to say, the addiction level is high with this one.
Going to the Cloud
Arguably the best feature of this game is iCloud support. All of your game saves are automatically uploaded to iCloud so that no matter what device you pick up, your game is current. Although I’m in the dark ages with my 2010-era iPad, playing Swordigo was a swift and clean transition between the two devices. You could make the argument that the game is better on the iPad because of the expansive real estate, but (in my case, anyway) the Retina display really tops it all.
Point is, if you get as hooked to this game as I did, you’ll find yourself playing on every iOS device you have — and that’s not a bad thing.
Marius called it 2.5D, and that’s pretty much where I stand on the situation. Yes, it’s a side scroller, but the backgrounds move at a different rate than the foreground, giving you the illusion of more depth than it actually has. So it’s not really 2D, but not 3D, either.
Although the graphics are neat, they do seem a bit archaic in nature. They’re not 8-bit nostalgic either, more a chunky Sega Genesis style that’s good, but doesn’t leave you wanting more. In fact, the only real complaint about the game is the graphics, in that the main character just doesn’t have any personality because of the clunky hair and weird clothing. The rendering just isn’t fantastic. Basically, it’s no Infinity Blade.
Although the graphics aren’t as stellar as they could be, that doesn’t stop Swordigo from being an absolutely awesome game to play, and very hard to put down. It’s not perfect, but it’s the type of game that I can see having a sequel that goes above and beyond in the process. The scope of the lands is awesome, gameplay is tough but not too tough, and it’s fun to play.
If you’re a fan of adventure games like I am, then Swordigo is a must-buy. Sure, the graphics aren’t perfect and the plot points aren’t exactly well laid out, but it sure is a lot of fun — and isn’t that the important thing?