Saturday, March 5, 2016

Swordigo (iOS, Android) Review

While most of you enjoy your time off this weekend, your buddy Phil here is slaving away, writing reviews on SuperPhillip Central! Just kidding. I wouldn't be writing if I didn't enjoy it! And speaking of enjoying things, I really did enjoy this Zelda II-inspired action/adventure game for iOS and Android known as Swordigo. It's a few years old, but it's still very much worth looking at. See why with my review.

Swordigo-go get this game if you haven't already.

I've been playing with physical controls (that's buttons, d-pads, analog sticks, joypads, etc.) since I started gaming and since they've been essential parts of the controller in my gaming experiences. Going from something tangible like a controller to a touch screen to move a character is a drastic departure from what I'm used to. There's no denying that touch controls for precise movement isn't optimal by any stretch of the imagination, and it's quite important for a game on a mobile device or tablet to nail the controls as perfectly as they can, else the experience is subpar, even broken.

My worry with Swordigo, a 2.5D action/adventure with RPG elements was that the touch controls would make the game very difficult for me, especially since I've been so accustomed to physical buttons. However, it's my pleasure to admit that despite my opening grievances coming into playing the game, Swordigo is a prime example of touch controls doing an adequate job in allowing me to control my character.

A hero's journey has to start somewhere, and for Swordigo's hero, it starts in this tranquil town.
Swordigo plays much like a beginner-friendly Zelda II: Adventure of Link (or maybe I am the only one who feels that Nintendo's second Zelda outing kicks players' butts). You control a young boy with blue hair who is tasked with saving a kingdom from a growing evil that is poisoning the land. Swordigo has all the basics you'd expect: sword fighting, simple platforming, finding treasure, taking down enemies for experience points, and learning new skills and obtaining new equipment to better prepare yourself for the tough journey ahead.

This box will be used to give our hero extra jumping height to make it to a higher platform.
The map of Swordigo is an interconnected series of 2D areas that allow you to fast travel via helpful portals. These portals also serve as continue points, so if you fall in battle (and as Swordigo isn't a walk in the park exactly, you'll do this a lot most likely), you'll appear at the last portal you came cross. You'll have all your progress saved from your point of death, so there's no need to worry about lost experience, needing to open a treasure chest again that you found pre-death, and any other huge inconvenience.

This forest is one of the first areas Swordigo introduces to its players.
Swordigo's level system has you earning experience after each felled foe. Once you gain a level, you choose from one of three statistics to increase: health, attack power, and magic. By the end of the game you'll basically have all three stats maximized, but it's paramount to spread the love to each stat as you're playing through the game to make the adventure easier on yourself.

The areas of Swordigo take you from forests to towns, and dark, monster-infested caverns to dungeons where keys are needed to unlock doors to progress. The map shows not only your current location but how many treasure chests are left to open. Treasures can house everything from currency to helpful bags of experience points, to new weapons and armor. In towns, there is a healer that can instantly restore all hearts of health you have, as well as a shop that has new swords, armor, health potions to use when you're dangerously low on hearts and don't have a healer nearby, and magic.

Talk about running the gauntlet!
Swordigo's controls are really well done and feel much more accurate than other 2D platformers with touch-based controls. You have left and right virtual buttons that are spread apart far enough so it's difficult, but not impossible, to touch the wrong direction. Then there's your standard jump, attack, and magic buttons on the lower right quadrant of the screen. The controls aren't imperfect, as there were many occasions particularly in platforming-heavy portions where I'd fall because I didn't hit the exact spot of the touch screen I needed to. However, the checkpoint portals are so plentiful (save for the final area) that death doesn't take away too much progress. Plus, falling into a bottomless pit isn't instant death anyway. You're just placed back to a safe nearby platform.

The boss battles are pretty challenging. Some have a higher level of creativity in them than others.
Swordigo is a pretty lengthy adventure for the price of admission, lasting about 8-12 hours. Finding all of the treasures will add some time to that, as will completing all of the achievements. Exploration is indeed enjoyable, so searching for treasure doesn't feel like a chore. There are some puzzles that will have you scratching your brain, but with enough time, the solution will present itself.

All in all, Swordigo was an incredible surprise to me. Not only is it an extremely entertaining 2D action-adventure that is greatly satisfying to play, but the touch controls aren't a nuisance. In fact, they generally work better than what'd you expect. If you're looking for a Zelda II-inspired hack and slash platformer with fun RPG elements, Swordigo is a mobile game you should Swordigo-go play!

[SPC Says: B]

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