Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers in Review – Banishing colour to save the sisters

Gamevil is one of those companies that simply can do no wrong on the AppStore. After the first true Action/RPG – ZENONIA – which held the titles of the best iPhone RPG for quite some time they followed up with the excellent HYBRID: Eternal Whisper – the game that set the bar for side-scrolling beat-em-up games on. A now they are releasing Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers. Can it make the same impact as the other Gamevil titles?

The Three Kingdoms is a legendary period in China’s history, one of the bloodiest ever. With the country separated, three warlords battled it out for power. Cao Cao after a glorius battle at Xuzhou defeated the army of his rival Liu Bei and set out to conquer Xiapi where Liu Bei’s wives were held. Guan Yu, general and the oath brother to Liu Bei, must now defend his sisters-in-law and reunite the family. And we must help him.

Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers is side scrolling Action/Beat-em-up with you playing Guan Yu (for the main campaign) trying to protect the carriage with Liu Bei’s wives on their way to the rendezvous. Stage after stage you’ll have to clear the path for the carriage by decimating hordes of footmen, spearmen, archers and horsemen. To do this you have a few attacks at your disposal: swipe, dash-cut, and a chargeable Royal Flight special attack. The latter can either launch forward several energy blasts or start a real thunderstorm depending on the charge. As you wreak mayhem you collect souls of fallen enemies which can either replenish your life, replenish the carriage, go to upgrading your weapon, getting a purple crystal or powering up the Royal Flight attack.

There is a limited customisation system in Vanquish. As I said earlier as you progress and collect souls your weapon upgrades on its own. An even more interesting feature is the purple crystal. You can either keep it as an extra life or gamble it away for a powerup item. The items add a random supper attack with a chance to trigger according to the % in the description. Mind, you can only equip one at a time. There are also a couple of stag upgrades which can make life a bit easier.

The most original feature of Vanquish is the graphics style and presentation. The enemies and scenery are drawn in black, white and few shades of grey with a few exceptions. But the attack effects, blood and souls colour the screen in a flurry of beautiful mayhem. This makes playing Vanquish quite a different experience. One thing I really miss though, is music. While it plays in the menus and cutscenes, during the mayhem the only thing you hear is soundeffects.

Another feature of Vanquish is the way the view pans and rotates as you move your hero across the battlefield. While providing an almost cinematic experience it does a great deal to disorient you up to a point where don’t understand whether you’re actually hitting the enemy and where you have to move to get to it. The only thing that comes to the rescue is the handy minimap at the top-left, but I would still like the game to work without one. The interface uses the classic V-Stick with two attack buttons which work as well as can be expected considering the crazy view.

Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers includes 3 storylines about the generals in the age of the Three Kingdoms with an approximate gameplay worth of 6-8 hours with an extra unlocked after beating all of them. A big downer is the fact stages reset completely on exit or an incoming phone call. So I’d recommend to put the iPhone in Airplane mode if you excpect a call, otherwise your 30+ mins of gameplay can easily be lost.

Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers immediately stands out due to the gorgeous and stylish visuals. Unfortunately the gameplay doesn’t live up to the presentation and quickly gets repetitive with very little character customization and a disorienting view. I would also recommend you read the background info on the era in the help section otherwise you’ll quickly get lost in the storyline.  For $2.99 there are better ways to spend your cash on the AppStore unless you’re a fan of the genre.

With this I declare Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers officially touched!

Please note that the game will be available on the AppStore starting Feb 5th.

App Summary
Title: VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers Developer: GAMEVIL Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 2.1
Price: $2.99 App Size: 8.9 MB
  • Original and beautiful graphical style
  • Historically accurate storyline
  • Little variety on attacks
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Very limited character customization
  • No music in-game
  • Disorienting view


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A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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