Infinity Blade is an Phone/iPod game developed by Chair Entertainment, a subsidiary of Epic Games. It is a touch based fighting game with RPG elements that is known for being the first iphone/ipod game to use Epic’s version of the Unreal Engine for iOS.
Infinity Blade is the first full fledged game to be released for iOS (iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad) using Epic’s Unreal engine. The console/PC version of the engine powers popular games like the Mass Effect Series, the Unreal Tournament series, the Gears of War series, Borderlands and Batman: Arkham Asylum. It is known for being an AAA game engine used in big budget games as well as a few indie games. This pedigree is important to place Infinity Blade as, in addition to the engine’s console roots, Epic released a tech demo called Epic Citadel to showcase the Unreal 3 engine on iOS devices. So, before anyone had even played the game there were graphical expectations. Players were looking for an almost console quality graphical experience and hoping for a game to go along with it. Gameplay-wise it borrows from fighting games and RPGs. The character progresses through a linear series of battles against single opponents. Travel between battles is initiated by the player but the character is only fully controlled by the player during the battles. experience points (XP) are accrued to upgrade the character and gold is gathered to upgrade weapons. Battles themselves involve reducing the opponents health to zero using attacks, blocks, dodges and parries, similar to games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, though the camera position (over the player character’s shoulder) if more akin to action or RPG games.
As with Road Blaster, Infinity Blade uses time and space in an interesting way, both to tailor the game to the iOS platform and for gameplay mechanics. The game is played from the perspective of successive sons in a lineage of knights trying to defeat the God King. The game starts with the player character vowing to avenge his father (spoiler: killed by the God King), overlooking a crumbling castle on a nearby hill. The knight works his way through the castle defeating the God King’s minions. The bulk of gameplay is in these confrontations. They are manually initiated by the player and, when so initiated, health bars appear. The knight must reduce the enemy’s health to zero. This is done by swiping a finger across the touch screen to swing the sword to attack or parry or tapping the edges of the screen or a shield iconto dodge and block. During these fights analyzing the game space and timing movements is key to victory. Blocks and parries must be performed at the right time and in the right direction or the knight will take damage. During the fights both the knight and the enemy remain stationary, only trading blows. Between fights, however, hotspots in the world will show up, showing where the knight can move next. tapping a hot spot initiates an animation, moving the knight to the next location or battle. There is no free movement in the game, except moving the view, and this is how gold and items are gathered. At all the stops and during some of the walking scenes the camera can be moved and tapping gold bags seen in the game world will give their contents to the player. Some gold bags are only glimpsed briefly and must be grabbed then, or will be missed. In this way, the player must pay attention to a linearly confined space to get the best character bonuses. Additionally the various pieces of armour that the player can buy have bonuses giving more gold, or having bonus items like health potions or pieces of armour appear instead of gold. If the knight dies during any of these fights, the player can go back to the last check point or restart the castle. Once the player initiates the battle with the God King, however, death is permanent and means restarting the castle as a descendant of the slain knight. keeping all of his XP and armour. The God King starts the game at level 50, so the player is meant to die the first few times. Additionally, each time the God King is slain the he becomes stronger on the next playthrough, effectively making the came an infinite loop. This approach allows the developers to make a relatively short game in a small space remain compelling, since the battles are the bulk of the gameplay and they get stronger each playthrough and the knight gets better gear. So, the game is a linear, constrained experience, in an essentially infinite cycle, the bulk of which, gameplay-wise, is in battles where the player must react to timed cues from enemies to be successful.
Infinity Blade is another iOS game that plays to the strengths of the touch screen. Interaction is by tapping and swiping the screen, which feels very natural for the sword fights (though fingers can get in the way of viewing the screen) and the game is presented in third person, so it’s almost as if the knight is a sword puppet who follows the player’s on-screen actions. Additionally, by having the option to look around during and collect things walking scenes, when there is no real control exercised over the knight, it makes these scenes feel less like static cinematics and more engaging.