The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect in Review – Simply doesn’t measure up to the competition… even one released 2 years ago.
A rare guest in our laboratory tonight, we welcome a member of the tactical turn-based strategy. The genre itself has seen various implementations on the iDevice, from the excellent Battle for Wesnoth (TMA Review) and Highborn (TMA Review) to the more obscure titles that have languished in the App Store. Personally I’ve always been quite fond of such games, ones that truly challenge the mind and strategic skills of the player. That’s why even despite the less promising screenshots of The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect I still took it for a spin, hoping against hope it will prove me wrong.
The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect is a classic tactical turn-based strategy with a light mix of RPG elements sprinkled on top. It features a detailed backstory, describing the unique world the developers created. The mythos, worthy of the Ancient Greeks details how magic was introduced into the world of men, stripped from 6 misguided gods. And now two unlikely adventurers, accompanied by their pet wolf, embark on a journey to find out why they’ve just been overrun by undead.
In Shrouded Aspect, you will mostly be doing 2 things – listening to and reading the intros and completing missions. I’m going to move to the latter in just a moment, but if you’re wondering why I mentioned the former – the interim cutscenes are text only and are long. And I do mean – really long – usually equal to about a page from a real-life book if not more. The missions themselves do not offer anything original – mostly you’ll have to kill all enemies on the map, split into hexagonal tiles, sometimes with an additional task to use some hot-spots while you’re at it.
You can choose up to 8 characters from your party to accompany you on the mission (though usually the number is limited to 4). Each has a bunch of skills, attributes and 3 equipment slots to customize, so at first glance it seems this should be interesting. Unfortunately almost always the first 2 slots for a mission are locked by 2 new characters introduced, allowing only 2 of the characters from your ever-growing party to participate in the mission. Considering only active participants gain experience and the only way to shift equipment – either new or existing is after the mission – this limits the opportunities to fully enjoy the RPG element quite a bit, especially since it requires 2 successful missions per skill level. And even though there are around 200 skills promised, they are split into about a dozen categories and most are weapon dependent, which further limits the real selection available.
Unfortunately, this ain’t all. If you look at the units and some of the environment tiles separately, they seem to be reasonably drawn. But thrown together, the graphics have the look and feel of some rather amateur PC games from the dawn of the Windows era. And that goes triple for the interface – it’s simply horrible. It is completely counter-intuitive and very imprecise. It’s often impossible to select a unit if there is another one in front. Understanding the Energy/AP info display requires constant reference to the help menu; even when you do, it doesn’t make much of a difference because many of the game mechanics are not explained at all and will leave you guessing why your warrior can’t use the recently upgraded flame attack for his fancy long sword.
It really surprises me to see a title like The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect hit the App Store at all. The game looks like a very early tech demo for a mediocre TBS/RPG. The developers have obviously been far too busy writing the deep and complex backstory, which I must admit is excellent, at least were it not for the horrendously long inter-mission briefings, to spend the time on creating a palpable interface or making the game look good, let alone polishing up the combat and skills system. At least the setting they created for Shrouded Aspect offers a solid starting point for future Pantheon Cycle releases, leaving some hope that good may still come out of all of this.
With this I declare The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect officially touched!
|Title:||The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect||Developer:||Gilligames|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.1||Min OS Req:||3.1.3|
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