I remember all the hype a little over a year ago when Ravensword: The Fallen King (TMA Review) was released. Praised by many for its “superb open world”, in reality the game was quite shallow and more of a 3rd person action that the “Oblivion for the iPhone” as it claimed to be. Regardless, it was successful enough that they were able to leave behind Chillingo’s mentorship and become a publisher themselves. Then several months ago, they aided Dicework Games in the release of Rimelands: Hammer of Thor (TMA Review), an excellent original western RPG. And just yesterday Crescent Moon Games published Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD – the game that Ravensword was meant to be.
Aralon is a classic open-world RPG game in the traditions of the Elder Scrolls series for the PC. After a brutal attack you awaken in a distant village. An unusual stranger introduces himself as a friend of your long lost father and tells you of the strange events, surrounding the court of the current ruler of Aralon. Determined to find out the truth about your father’s demise, you start out for the distant city of Callaheim to investigate just what the hell is really going on!
Aralon offers 4 distinct classes and 3 races for your enjoyment, which is already a nice start for any iDevice RPG. You can either be a Human, Elf or a Troll and choose to specialize as a Warrior, Rogue, Ranger or Mage (though the Troll race is limited to the first two only). Each class has its own skill tree and quite a lot of equipment has one restriction or another, i.e. mages can’t use bows or rangers can’t use heavy swords, etc. And even with there being only 5 basic attributes, it’s easy enough to see that the customization opportunities are well above and beyond 99% of App Store RPGs. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that there are also 10 equipment slots, a simple crafting system and even item enchantments.
The gameplay of Aralon is even more expansive than its character customization; you’ll have a huge open world to deal with. There are no limitations on your movements, so it’s quite easy to wander into an area with baddies significantly stronger than you are. At the same time, it’s possible to miss whole areas and advance and then find yourself having to go back and slaughter the now insignificant foes. Thankfully you won’t have to struggle on all the way on foot as you’ll be able to acquire rides, from common horses to dragons. Along with the main quest to set the kingdom right, you’ll encounter dozens of side-quests, some easy, some not so much, but be prepared to spend tens of hours on this game.
The graphics in Aralon, while in no way as spectacular as the recent Infinity Blade, are quite nice. The models could have been a bit more detailed, but the visual effects are excellent – flowing water, believable fire and full day/night cycles with gorgeous sunsets will please almost anyone. And as an added bonus, Aralon is a universal app with full Retina support as well. The interface is ok, though it does have some kinks. Most frustrating is probably the necessity to face your opponent to be able to cast a spell. The character doesn’t do this automatically and since the enemies usually rush you, it often becomes a problem. Another thing – there are only 10 quickslots, switchable in batches of 5, which quite quickly becomes far from enough.
Aralon offers a huge world for you to explore and lots of ways to do it. Whether you’re inclined to be a Elf Mage or a Troll Warrior, it will give you more than enough opportunities to satisfy almost any character customization desires. There are some minor flaws, like the sometimes frustrating interface or the non-imaginative spell names (Fire Blast 1, 2, 3, 4 anyone?). But the expansive world, deep character customization and an involving story will grip you and keep you coming back to Aralon time and time again.
With this I declare Aralon officially touched!
|Title:||Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD||Developer:||Crescent Moon Games|
|Reviewed Ver:||2.0||Min OS Req:||3.0|