Infinity Blade is the third game from Chair Entertainment, a division of Epic Games. Previous games include Undertow and Shadow Complex, fine shooting games for the Xbox Live Arcade. Can Infinity Blade pioneer a new level of graphical quality on the iPhone? And more importantly, is the game good?

(Infinity Blade is designed for iPhone 3GS/4, iPod Touch 3rd/4th-gen and iPad. It requires an OS of at least 3.2.)

Father, I Will Avenge You!

We all can go on podcasts and blogs and say that gameplay is most important to us, but when it comes to Infinity Blade, the graphics are the main course. Infinity Blade makes use of the Unreal Engine, which makes its debut on iOS devices. Unreal is all over console gaming, from Gears of War to Bioshock to the upcoming Bulletstorm and is generally revered as a great engine to drive a game. The Unreal engine runs quite well on iOS, as the game looks phenomenal with beautiful environments, excellent lighting and no real graphical hitches unless you really want to be nitpicky. I own an iPhone 4 and a 3rd-gen iPod Touch and the iPhone 4 version has a nice shine to it that makes it look better, but owners of a 3rd-gen Touch will still have a nice looking game. With Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies dominating iOS, it’s refreshing to see a great game on iOS that isn’t fueled by cartoony graphics. (not to knock two of my favorite games on iOS)

It’s a graphical powerhouse, so the story can get by with being serviceable or even not good. A man goes to attack the God King and dies trying. 23 years later, you play as that man’s son, aiming to kill the God King. You must fight your way thru the castle to get to God King and kill him.

Or actually, maybe you don’t have to kill him.

Infinity Blade looks phenomenal, especially on a 4th-gen iOS device.

You’re obviously weak in the beginning, and not before long will you reach the God King. If you’re perfect, than you’ll beat him easy without gaining levels, but when the battle versus God King ends, regardless of victory or defeat, you take on the role of that guy’s son you just played as (which the game refers to as Bloodlines). It’s kind of a neat little story mechanic to play multiple times as different sons of this one guy. There are Game Center achievements for up to 20 Bloodlines which can make replayability better for the new iPhone Achievement Junkies like yours truly. Besides one line from the primary bloodline character, only the God King speaks, and it’s in a language that’s made up and not understandable, so don’t worry about voice acting or emphasis on character development. That’s not why you’re paying $5.99!

The deadliest sword is your own index finger.

The game consists of you moving your player from point to point and frequently battling enemies. There’s an exploration element where you can find potions/chests/alternate paths, etc., but the fighting is the big part of it. When fighting, the key thing is to block, dodge or parry enemy attacks. Once you get a break of some kind out of the enemy, you can swipe like crazy to attack. If you get hit once during an enemy’s assault, you’ll only be able to get one swing in before the pattern starts again. Sometimes, I’ve been a bit above the dodge button and have been hit, and in some cases, getting hit once means taking a second blow. The game also has a super attack (see: top left) that dizzies your enemy and various magic abilities that use gestures to cast magic. I suggest charging up your magic real good; it’s nice to be able to cast heal on yourself twice during battle. As you play the game thru more and more bloodlines, the attack patterns will almost become second nature for you. Repetition truly sets in after the first or second bloodlines, but it’s still fun even 11 bloodlines in to swipe like crazy on the God King once you’ve broken him.

My level 37 character. It's the big draw to playing thru multiple times.

If you are a person who loves leveling up, Infinity Blade has you covered (but with a key annoyance). There are many weapons and multiple weapons and armor pieces that can be “Mastered” thru battle experience, which can add an additional point to level up one of your main stats. But the problem sets in once you get to where I’m at, which is at level 37. After a battle, you’ll receive something like 5000 points, and the game automatically divvies up the points into the 5 equipment items you have on. If an item is “Mastered”, those points are lost. To the point I’m at, I have every shield, helmet, armor and ring mastered and have a few swords left. Instead of getting the full benefit of big experience points, I’m left to only take the 1000+ points I can for my sword. It’s stunting my character’s ability to level up, so I’ve kinda hit a dead end for the moment.

To Come Via Updates

Some of what we should expect in the future via updates.

Chair has announced that a free update will be on the way next week with new stuff. Swords, shields, helmets and rings to master, which will fix my issue I mentioned earlier with leveling up for some time. New enemies (one called Marrow) will come for those that are tired of seeing the same big mechanical guy or the barbarian. But the two biggest features to come are Multiplayer via Gamecenter and new areas to explore. Chair teases that there are enemies even stronger than God King, so I’m really looking forward to traversing these dungeons and taking on what I assume to be faster and stronger enemies.

Closing Thoughts

One week in, I’m already at level 37, and I think the game is amazing on the iOS. The gameplay is very fun and very responsive and the graphical quality itself is above its $5.99 tag. Chair is establishing itself as a great development company that knows its way around the Unreal engine. While repetition is an important factor to consider, the game looks so great and the gameplay is quite enjoyable that I think most gamers won’t mind playing thru multiple Bloodlines. Game Center’s 48 achievements certainly add to the drive of playing multiple times to master items, combos, etc. This is a pinnacle iOS game for a good price of $5.99… go buy it!

HINT: When fighting the God King, after the first segment in which you best him, your sword will be knocked out of your hand and the God King will ask you to join him. Go ahead and choose him. You get an achievement for the alternate ending (Not In Kansas), and the game will take you right back to before the God King fight. Easy 25 points.

Infinity Blade on Kinect?

Over this past weekend, I was actually talking with co-host Xcom about the game and saying that it could be a great Kinect game. Sure enough, earlier this week, articles started coming out about how the game was conceived as a Kinect title. Chair isn’t ruling out the possibility of still bringing it to Kinect, but with making $1.7 million in 4 days on the App Store, we can hold our breaths that this could come out on the Xbox 360.