For polish version of this review please go to tabletowo.pl.
On 1st of December, Chair Entertainment Group has published a sequel to its flagship and critically acclaimed iOS game called Infinity Blade. The second iteration has the same praised sword combat mechanic as the first part, but has been enhanced with more features, so it is no longer a "dodge-slash" game, which many reviewers saw as boring and repeatable.
Let's see what's in the box
Developers have employed the same Unreal 3 engine, which was used in Infinity Blade and other iOS games such as Dark Meadow. This is automatically a big advantage, because Unreal engine takes full advantage of OpenGL ES 2.0 resulting in console-quality visuals. Infinity Blade II has however some improvements over the original game, employing features such as light shafts. Chair again sets a new level of game visuals on iOS.
Sequel to Infinity Blade brings much more open spaces, compared to the original game. The story begins in japanese-like highlands, and then main protagonist moves to the "Vault of Tears" stronghold, which looks much like the castle in the original game, only bigger and with about 4 times as many locations to explore. "Vault of Tears" changes over time, and it is possible to explore new secret passages between already visited locations.
Infinity Blade II is centered around sword combat, which is dubbed "The Aegis forms" in The storyline. Besides the classic sword and shield (light weapons) we can now choose from heavy weapons and dual wield swords, each with its own combat mechanic.
Light Weapons look and work just like their counterparts from the original Infinity Blade: opponents (called the Titans) charge the main character in a series of swings, and if we successfully block, dodge or parry them, we can then hit the Titan back. The first game was basically about dodging - each Titan move could be easily predicted and dodged by pressing a button on each side of the screen, so with some practice combat has become predictable and boring. Infinity Blade II discourages dodging by employing an exhaustion mechanic: after dodging a few times (depending on your current armor), the main protagonist becomes exhausted, and the dodges become ineffective - some damage still bleeds through. Parrying is a bit more difficult than dodging, because player needs to swipe in direction of titan hit, but if timed correctly, becomes a Great Parry. Is in turn gives a longer window for the main character to strike back. Blocking still works like in the original game: when player presses a button in the center of the screen, the main character hides behind his shield, blocking most of the attacks. Heavy swings will however come through, so instead of blocking, one should dodge them.
Heavy weapons work differently. Instead of a shield, the main character is holding his weapon in two hands, swings are much slower, but also deal almost twice as much damage. To block, on needs to expect the direction of the titan hit, and either touch the dodge buttons (if the swing is coming from the side) or the block button (if the hit is coming from above). Parrying works the same as with light weapons. After a successful parry however, player is given opportunity to perform a Great Slash - a powerful attack, which deals more damage. The great slash must be performed in a specific direction, which is shown on the screen.
Dual weapons are two very light daggers or light swords, which are used in a dual wield configuration. With dual weapons, the main character can perform long combo chains, making lots of damage. After a 3 hit combo, protagonist will hit the Titan with both swords. The block button will cause the character to duck, so he can avoid side swings. Dodge buttons work just like with the light weapons.
Blocking is not a safe alternative to dodging or parrying anymore. Some attacks (like shield bash for example) cannot be blocked or parried and must be dodged. The same applies to punches or kicks - they cannot be parried and must be dodged as well.
Experience works a bit differently than in other RPG games. After each battle, the XP is added not only to the main XP bar, but also to each item now equipped by the character. When the character earns a new level, 2 points are available, which can be then assigned to one of the four character attributes: Health, Attack, Block and Magic. Mastering an item will yield one extra point, so it is a good idea to master each item. It is also possible to master an item for in-game cash. This allows a very fast progress, provided your gold bag is big enough.
Inventory is divided into several compartments: Light, Heavy and Dual weapons, Shields, Rings, Armor and Supplies. In addition to the original game, the new Infinity Blade sports socketed items which can be further tuned with various gems, which randomly drop from enemies or chests. New items can be bought from the "Store" with gold, which is hidden in small pouches in almost every location. Some chests now need green, yellow and violet keys, which can be found in various locations just like the money bags. In contrast to the original game, items can only be sold if you own two or more of a type (you can sell all gems though). It is also possible to remove a gem from an old item for a small fee, so you can re-use them as your character progresses through the game.
After defeating the God King in the original game, the main character visits his home village of Drem's Maw and we learn, that his name is Siris. He is not welcome there however, because villagers fear that the other Deathless will come looking for the Infinity Blade. Siris feels responsible and so he decides to leave. Back in the God King castle he learns "magic" behind the Infinity Blade (but we learn that this is no magic, but very advanced technology). He meets a thief and assassin there, whose name is Isa, after her failed attempt at his life. Siris doesn't trust her, but she seems to know more than he, so he is forced to work with her. She tells him about another Deathless, Saydhi, who might know more about the Infinity Blade. This is where the second game begins. Once Siris defeats the last champion of the Deathless female, he asks her a question about the mysterious Worker of Secrets. She tells Siris where to look from him, but just after she does that, she attempts to kill Siris. Infinity blade however has been activated in the God King castle, where Siris killed one of his descendants. With the working Infinity Blade, Siris is able to kill the female Deathless. Then our protagonist notices an obelisk, very like the one in the basement of the God King castle. He attempts to unlock it with his Infinity Blade, but it is a trap set by the God King, who turns out to be alive. God King attempts to kill Siris, calling him with another name: Ausar. Isa is faster: she shots Siris in the head with her crossbow, thus preventing God King from killing Siris with the now active Infinity Blade. Siris wakes up in a chamber filled with technology and learns he is... Deathless as well. All the bloodlines who went to the God King castle was him.
Spoiler ends here.
This is where we pick up our game, but instead of "Padre, vegawunze" now we have "Worker, I will free you."
The storyline is not amazing, but it makes the game an interactive fantasy book. It also gives our character some purpose, rather than just going around a castle and dueling Titans. Chair has released a book in iBookstore by Brandon Sanderson, which bridges the story of the first and second game. It is a very good read, and I recommend reading it as well.
Infinity Blade II is not Skyrim; the path is still scripted and it's not a full sandbox RPG. Chair did learn a lot from the original game however and worked upon the features which were not perfect in the first part. Scripted walking can be considered helpful on the small iPhone screen, because it is harder to get stuck or lost. Game world itself is much bigger, there is more open locations and they are very well designed. If this was a PC game, I'd give it 4/5, but since "This is on a phone!", Infinity Blade II is a 5 of 5. It is definitely a masterfully crafted game, which pushes the edge of mobile and tablet games to a new level.