"A Hacking Good Time"
The hack-and-slash; a genre nearly as old as gaming itself, and a celebration of the epitome of video game combat. After all, what's more basic in gaming syntax than attacking whatever malicious monster, alien, or what-have-you comes towards you? The answer: nothing, except maybe jumping and going right.
It is this basic concept - hacking things to death - that forms the entirety of Everplay and Fire Fruit Forge's Spellsword, and the result, while not without some minor issues, is easily worth its meager $0.99.
Spellsword's setup is simple. As far as story goes, all you're going to learn is that you're a hero armed with nothing but a legendary blade and a repertoire of humorous one-liners. The plot may be next to nonexistent, but this makes it easier to focus on what the game is truly about. And that is the gameplay, which consists of multiple challenges spread throughout three arenas that are, more often than not, cluttered with monsters.
These challenges are simple in nature, in that your job most of the time is to hack away at whatever comes at you. Most challenges are basic "Survive enemy waves for this long" or "Kill this many enemies" affairs, with some diversity like "Take out this specific enemy this many times," and "Slay this many enemies in less than this amount of time" in order to keep things from getting boring. I'll admit that mission variety is not Spellsword's strong point. Throughout the sixty challenges, objectives like the ones above repeated frequently. While some may find this disappointing, I did not find that this issue hampered my playing experience too much.
Adding some spice to the gameplay is the use of multi-colored Spell Cards, which can boost your hero's standard sword attack with various magical enhancements. These cards appear at random in several spots throughout the arena, and once you grab one, another will appear in another spot. The enhancements that you get using the Spell Cards include unleashing a flurry of enemy-seeking fireballs, stunning enemies with an earthquake, the ability to shoot long-range wind waves, and (my personal favorite) the ability to poison all the enemies on the screen, causing them to explode soon after, just to name a few. While each spell only lasts a few seconds, they are invaluable and can help turn the tide against an overcrowded arena in the right circumstances. Plus, the added power is just plain fun to lay waste to monsters with.
Your hero may be awesome from the get-go, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. That is where Spellsword's leveling system comes in handy. By slaying monsters and completing challenges, you gain rupees which can be used to increase the power of the spells, as well as increase the time each spell lasts, and the drop rate of valuable rupees. Aside from these are various amulets, rings, and headgear that can boost your stats and health even further. These RPG elements help give the game improved longevity and more reason to jump back in.
But since we're on the subject of longevity, I shall take a moment to mention the game's biggest drawback: its lack thereof (of longevity, that is). The sixty challenges which make up the meat of Spellsword tended to go by rather quickly, and while I could say that I'm just too awesome for this game, I'm pretty sure that I am not the only one who will tear through the majority of these challenges in two-or-so hours. Luckily, the game comes with an endless mode that lets you take on each arena with multiple difficulties, and more challenges have been promised for future updates. And while that's cool, it's still the hack-and-slash gameplay throughout.
Luckily, that hack-and-slash gameplay is the key to what makes Spellsword so fun to play. It may be simple, but that makes it easy to get into. Tight controls (which can also be rearranged to better suit the player's needs), along with a hectic sense of action, the RPG elements mentioned earlier, neat 16-bit style visuals, and a selection of catchy tunes make this game, to reiterate something I said near the beginning of this article, well... worth a dollar's admission… if only to watch as your poisoned foes explode into dozens of 16-bit bits. Heh, heh...
GameDynamo's Score for Spellsword (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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