Wears its retro influences proudly like one of its many wearable armors
The fantastic fan and at the same time the arduous challenge of the iOS App Store is locating games of great quality. Sure, the Internet is an excellent source to find knowledge of the more popular games, but many times, truly wonderful games do fall through the cracks. One game that I discovered upon that I feel immensely lucky for doing so is the 2D action platformer Goblin Sword. What it lacks in narrative it more than makes up for in fabulous challenge, great level design, and tight controls.
What there is of the story in Goblin Sword is very loose and very light. The only real scenes expressing any dialogue happen after certain boss battles, and really, once you see the still frame cutscenes, you're left with the strong sense of saying to yourself, "that's it?"
Still, while the story elements of Goblin Sword do little to drive players' motivation to go through the 40+ levels of the game, it's the excellent gameplay that personally kept me coming back for more and more. This consists of 2D hack-and-slash sword or whip action similar to the Castlevania series, as well as careful platforming to dodge traps like bottomless pits and spikes. Your hero can perform a double jump with ease as well as slash foes into oblivion, though most require more than one swing of the sword or strike of the whip.
|The initial forest world nicely eases you into Goblin Sword's gameplay.|
|The enemy variety is immense, throwing in all kinds of foes for your hero to face.|
There are also three crystals hidden in each level as well. Some are right out in the open, requiring some careful, precision platforming to attain, while others use a common trick in Goblin Sword. You see, there are a lot of secret alcoves in the game, all of which are uncovered by walking through what initially seems like a solid wall. Most of the game's secrets are placed behind such innocuous spots, meaning that in every level, you'll want to jump into any curious-looking walls, hoping to find a hidden area. This can be a bit exhausting, leaping into every wall in hopes of finding a secret path, but most are placed in locations that show intelligent design.
|Blue orbs found in levels grant you a temporary upgrade to your weapon's attack ability.|
Each world houses two boss battles. One takes place after the first half of levels have been finished off while the second happens at the end. They're their own stages, so there's no worry about having to go through a platforming test before you have to face off with the boss. Boss battles have patterns to follow, tricky attacks to dodge, and spots where they're temporarily immobile, perfect for getting a few strikes in on their health bar. These battles are indeed a lot of fun and require skill in overcoming them.
|Geez! Did someone pee in this boss's cereal this morning or what?!|
While you explore levels and take on bosses, you'll earn gems to be used in Goblin Sword's shop. No worries about any microtransactions here. Everything in the shop is purchased via these gems, whether it's new swords with varying statistics (in attack power, speed of use, and range) as well as their own special attacks, used when your hero comes across special blue orbs in levels. Armor seems to be only good for fashion reasons, as you take the same damage regardless of what armor you wear. Finally, relics can be purchased, giving you abilities like more health-restoring hearts dropped by enemies, the ability to glide, or a super helpful triple jump for more challenging, platforming-centric levels.
|A wide range of weaponry, armor, and relics are available for you to purchase with gems found in levels.|
If you're looking for an incredibly fun, superbly designed 2D hack-and-slash action platformer (a mouthful, for sure), then Goblin Sword fits that bill wonderfully. It holds many fun secrets in its levels, the boss battles are fantastic, it has plenty of content for its price, and the controls are essentially immaculate. The story is needless, and the reliance on secret alcoves in the level design might drive some players crazy, but overall, Goblin Sword amazes in nearly every virtual crevice.
[SPC Says: A-]