With the recently announced Deathless Kings update, I figured I’d take a quick look at the extremely popular Infinity Blade.
— The entire game consist of only about a dozen or so “pit-stops” along a short but branching path. Each stop can include any of the following: a one-on-one battle, a treasure, a fork in the road, or any combination of the above.
— Traversing the environment is automatic, with the player’s avatar walking along a rail from one pit-stop to another. These segments can be fast-forwarded, although they represent opportunities to collect extra loot via a hidden object minigame. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of randomization to the placement of objects, resulting in the player quickly memorizing all the potential treasure spots.
— Combat is timing-based and includes dodging (pressing either the lower left or lower right area of the screen), blocking (pressing the lower middle area of the screen), parrying (swiping in the opposite direction of an incoming attack), casting spells (tracing magic runes on the screen), and attacking (tapping/swiping the enemy itself).
— Although blocking is the easiest of the defensive maneuvers, each subsequent attack degrades the equipped shield and can eventually destroy it.
— In order to score hits reliably, the player must create openings by successfully dodging/blocking/parrying incoming attacks. The player can even stun the enemy with a well-placed counter, initiating a slow-motion effect complete with a hotspot that can be stabbed for extra damage.
It’s a small feature, but it works well as it prevents the player from swiping around as quickly as possible in order not to miss any opportunities to deal bonus damage.
— Occasional segments where the combatants’ weapons clash add further variety. These result in a tug-of-war that has the player rapidly tapping the screen in an effort to overpower the enemy and score a few free hits.
— A big frustration of the combat is that slowdown seems to be randomly attributed to the monsters’ attacks. This prevents the player from learning their timing as the same animation can play out very differently in each encounter.
What exasperates this issue even further is that the animation slowdown is almost identical to the successful-counter slowdown effect, suckering the player into attacking when they should be avoiding on the defensive.
— The battles progress through phases accompanied by cinematic transitions, e.g., an en enemy retreating over a bridge and away from the player’s onslaught. When an enemy is defeated, it goes into a stunned phase that allows the player to score a bunch of free hits (each one granting an extra bit of experience) before being dispatched with an auto-executed fatality.
— Infinity Blade has a bit of a Demon’s Souls vibe, both in aesthetics and gameplay. The visuals and the God King’s speech are somewhat similar, as is the ability to retain one’s stats/equipment after dying (admittedly, though, Infinity Blade is much more forgiving than Demon’s Souls).
— The enemies level up with the main character, and although the encounters are always the same, the opponents’ armaments change with each subsequent playthrough.
— One final note of interest is that each equipable item gains experience along with the player. This not only encourages equipment-swapping for visual and physical improvements, but also to maximize the rate of advancement. In a game that’s largely loot-based, this works great as an additional motivator for seeking out extra treasures.
I had a few issues with Chair’s breakout hit Shadow Complex and its plethora of mechanics, but I found Infinity Blade a very focused and enjoyable experience.