Swordigo Review: A Fantastic Action RPG with Familiar Plot, but Stellar Execution
There’s a lot to enjoy in Swordigo, the new hack-n-slash fantasy RPG from Touch Foo. It’s a well-designed, tightly-controlled game that is certain to appeal to any action or RPG genre fan. In fact, it’s almost a best-in-genre game, held back only by some highly derivative elements.
In terms of plot, Swordigo is very standard fantasy fare. There’s a young hero; a supernatural evil out to destroy everything; a kingdom in trouble; a magic sword to assemble. It’s a straightforward set-up that lets the game exist, and it’s clear that no one at Touch Foo thought too deeply about it. But that’s okay, because you’re not playing Swordigo for the story. You’re playing it for the hours of hack-n-slash genre goodness.
In this regard, Swordigo delivers in spades. You make your way, side-scroll style, through enemy-infested areas — a forest, a cave, a castle, an icy plain — swinging your sword and slinging spells. Every kill earns you experience points, which levels you up and makes you stronger; you also improve your weapons and armor, of course. It’s all the things you’d expect, and it’s all done incredibly well. It’s a fun game to play, one that scratched my RPG itch quite well.
Swordigo also challenged me, because it’s pretty hard in spots. Some areas are cleverly designed and just frustrating enough to make it fun; and some of the game’s boss battles are teeth-grittingly difficult. Yet the game is still designed with a more casual iOS gamer in mind — it has a forgiving redo system in place for when you die, it offers ample checkpoints for when you actually die, and each segment of the world is small enough to be negotiated in a few minutes. This balance of real challenge and casual sensibility is incredibly well struck.
Great game play and design are accompanied by a finely tuned control scheme. Touch controls are always going to be a limitation of the mobile gaming genre, but games like Swordigo and the recently released League of Evil 2 show that they can be really, really well done. You’ll rarely be frustrated by these virtual buttons.
The game play in Swordigo is so incredibly good that I’m almost depressed about the story and graphics. There’s not a lick of originality in the generic setting, story, and graphical presentation. In fact, as a big Legend of Zelda fan, I couldn’t quite overlook how much of that franchise is in Swordigo’s DNA. They really don’t try to disguise it; some of the enemies, items, and graphical elements seem lifted straight from that franchise. And the cartoon, almost plastic graphics sometimes jarred with the high-fantasy adventure feel of the game play.
But this game isn’t good because it’s original; it’s good because of the way it has used those familiar elements, like a DJ mixing samples of familiar songs into something you want to keep listening to. I can’t quite bring myself to give Swordigo five stars; but I just enjoyed it too much not to recommend it. I only hope that Swordigo 2, if and when it hits, tries to forge into less familiar territory.
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5