chris-littlechild - May 25, 2012
The iOS smash Infinity Blade is a true oddity. It's a fully-fledged (if decidedly archaic and simplistic) RPG experience with a Medieval aesthetic, casting you as Anonymous Pissed-Off Dude With Sword. Our hero, Mr. APODWS, has lost his father to a similarly nameless knight of mucho death. (Mr. APODWS senior did happen to be lurking about the dude's castle at the time, for reasons that remain undisclosed. I'm fairly convinced they were nefarious, though. Fortunately, he was seen on Dark Ages CCTV, which I believe is powered by shoveling pigshit into a primitive generator in lieu of the far-less-odorous modern electricity. A charming task reserved for someone who has recently displeased the knight of mucho death:
"My lord, I wonder if I might ask you to... refrain from getting your genitals out at the dining table?"
"I SEE. I SHOULD SIMPLY DESIST FROM BOOSTING THE LEVITY OF THE COURT WITH MY FAMED PARTY TRICK PENILE DISPLAYS?"
"It's simply that some of the men consider it to be somewhat inappropriate, what with..."
"SILENCE, FOOL! I AM THE MASTER OF THIS REALM, AND IF THE FANCY TAKES ME TO WAVE MY BALLS AROUND, YOU'D DAMN WELL BETTER BELIEVE THEY SHALL BE WAVED. CURSE YOUR INSUBORDINATION! IT'S PIGSHIT GENERATOR DUTY FOR YOU!"
Or something along those lines. I'm a little discombobulated as to why the knight speaks in the manner of Darth Vader, but you see my point. Whatever it was.) The situation is a little ambiguous, with the trespassing and all, but the knight's murderisation of our protagonist's father led him to vow revenge. As such, he arrives at the outskirts of the fortress in dear daddy's footsteps.
The dominant aspect of the game is the combat. On your way to the lair of the bad dude (whose name, as you can likely surmise, has escaped me) in the bowels of the castle, you'll encounter a malevolent myriad of opponents. These range from rather funky-looking ninja soldier guys, to the hideous man-beast pictured here.
("Be afraid, puny human! I resemble a gigantic bear, shaved from head to hairy bear-nutsack and wedged into the least protective suit of armour ever devised. Justlookat the damn thing, you can see my heroic pectorals!"
"I fear you not, evildoer! My own defensive apparel looks just as preposterous as yours. My sword, moreover, looks like it was fashioned from the skin of an enormous caterpillar. As such, it's not the keenest of blades. Even so, a lot of big guys are petrified of bugs, andI'll flail it around an inch from your face, in a decidedly threatening manner!Are you afraid of bugs, immense bear dude?"
"I am not."
In deference to the system it's running on, Each battle with something unholy is entirely touch-controlled. You'll swipe a finger across the screen to slash, parry, dodge and stab, while simply holding will ready your shield. A deft little motion is reserved for casting each magic spell, like the melodramatic flailing wrist-action employed by ubiquitous wizard ballache Harry Potter et al. In all, it's an experience not unlike fellow iOS dweller Fruit Ninja on acid. (Which isn't as wacky as it sounds. In truth, this would largely constitute Fruit Ninja jabbering incessantly and moronically. "Dude! The sky isbreathing!I can see it! Dude, look!Dude, look!The sky is...""SHUT UP, FRUIT NINJA!") The combat system is a remarkable balance of subtle depth and intuitive play, an achievement indeed.
Rather less involving is your progress across the overworld map. This is achieved simply by touching your next intended destination, in the point and click style. There are multiple courses to take en route to the final confrontation, which you select on repeat plays via a simple poke with your glorious puppetmaster's finger. (Take care to wash your glorious puppetmaster's finger prior to engaging in these shenanigans, if you've been playing with your sweaty nutsack beforehand. Which you have. I know, I was watching. Arousing stuff.) There's a good deal of longevity here, the adventure is fleeting but encourages repeat plays. Nay, it demands them. The final opponent is a bitch indeed, and could effortlessly dispatch you with one hand behind his back. And the other on his penis. As such, your death will herald a repeat quest under the next bloodline. To wit, the son of the avenging son arrives at the castle to avenge his father, who failed to avenge his own father. (If you'll excuse that excruciating sentence.) And so it goes on, your experience and equipment carrying over to the next attempt. This cycle proceeds in the manner of a perpetual motion machine, until you take this bastard down. The other possibility being that somebody in this family of meatheaded morons might have a epiphany along the lines of, "perhaps it's not so smart to steam into a castle defended by a horde of horrors Satan pulled out of his ass one day, in pursuit of a belligerent bastard who couldcleft my body in twain.Simply by looking at me. He could then rip off my limbs and insert my blood-bleeding legs into my arm sockets, and my arms into my leg sockets. Whereupon he'd make medance on my arm-legs for his own amusement. That kind of guy, you don't piss off."
But I don't hold out much hope for that second denouement.
"Antlers, Jeremy? Seriously? You and your theatrics. Love what you've done with your groin, though. If there's one thing I've always thought a man's balls were in need of, it's a small quantity of decorative cloth. The band-aids on your sword, not so much."
The RPG trappings are also notable. Your warrior will gain experience and levels with your victories, and can be bolstered with the purchase of new equipment and the resultant stat boosts. It's pretty derivative and generally ass; but it's just enough to complement the battles, the true stars of the show. It's also, as I think I've demonstrated above, quite the sexy beast. Aesthetically, a stellar showcase for what can be achieved in non-console gaming. Infinity Blade is an odd dichotomy of gamer's game and non-gamer's game. There's the Fruit Ninja-esque addictive simplicity of the control system, but there's so much more than that. The presentation, the collection and customization mechanics belie this humble intent, appealing to dedicated players as well. It's remarkable for a budget iOS app to achieve this delicate balance, and for that the game is rightfully lauded.
Here's Infinity Blade in action. Revel in the fact that this madness is actually unfolding for your delectation on a mobile.Revel I say!
Article by Chris Littlechild
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