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It’s quite a feat when a game’s presentation is mesmerizing enough to cause death by distraction. Such is the case with God of Blades, a side-scrolling sword combat game that takes full advantage of the Retina display to create something genuinely remarkable and unique.
Your character, the Nameless King, automatically runs from left to right (think Canabalt), encountering enemies as he traverses a flat yet stunning 2D landscape. Directional finger swipes translate into one of four basic sword moves, and various unlockable swords all have different ranges and speeds. Hacking through swaths of weaklings is incredibly satisfying, but the fun grinds to a halt when tougher enemies appear late in the campaign and constant parrying becomes necessary.
Parrying foes, being parried, or taking damage disrupts momentum and bounces the King back varying degrees, putting him and his combatant temporarily out of each other’s virtually indecipherable range. It’s a system requiring patience and practice to master, though much in the same way one masters a 30-year-old car’s faulty ignition -- that is to say, refinement is lacking. Thankfully, a redeeming score attack mode called “Eternal” exists for when you hit the campaign’s difficulty roadblock.
On the other hand, the presentation of the game’s cosmic fantasy theme is stellar, both figuratively and literally. Dynamic backgrounds, beautiful artwork, and trippy story text are all reasons enough to warrant purchase. Half the appeal of progressing through the campaign is discovering the next wondrously ethereal stage -- even if you have to combat some frustrating controls to get there.
The bottom line. Brilliant presentation and the redeeming Eternal score mode make God of Blades worth playing, though loose controls sour prolonged sessions.
iPhone, iPad touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Uniquely beautiful audio and visual presentation. Eternal mode offers satisfying score-chasing.
Simplistic, repetitive combat. Floaty controls. Some sword unlocks require library visits (yes, really).