Your handy iOS device should seem like a fertile landscape for action-RPGs that PC titles like Diablo made both famous and absurdly addictive. After all, beyond all the stats, stories, and items, you’re left with a point and click fest that seems ideally suited to tapping a lot. Braveheart was definitely created with Diablo in mind, but that doesn’t mean you should run your fingers to the App Store just yet.
Braveheart tries to balance the deep and lengthy role-playing adventure of Diablo with the transient nature of a portable game. Instead of providing players with an open world of action and adventure, the game goes on a level-by-level basis. Each level inevitably has your Nordic-looking hero fighting several waves of progressively nastier bad things, and there’s painfully little variety to much of the game.
They may take our lives… but they’ll never take our freedom!
Braveheart boils down to simply moving all around a small map, killing everything until the level’s completion bar fills up. At the end of every world is a boss battle, but these tend to feel more like a battle of attrition and patience than skill and strategy. Boss health bars are huge, but the gameplay remains the same: Run around hitting things while avoiding the next spot where a painful enemy spell is about to appear, then strike at the boss until it dies.
Some levels have respawn markers as well, like the undead woods, where magical flags summon up the shambling dead until you destroy the flag. Your barbarian either swings his mace (or sword) like crazy in a constant circle around him, or uses his crossbow for range attacks.
The attack controls are clever. You spin your finger around in a circle to get his mace swinging, and then tap or slice him in the right direction, essentially turning him into a really violent whirling dervish. To shoot your crossbow, simply hold one finger on the screen, then tap on the target you wish to impale. Overall, the controls work fine.
Getting dizzy here…
The problem is that the gameplay gets incredibly repetitive after just the first level. Watching your character simply spin around and mow down brainless hordes with little variation isn’t fun for more than a few minutes at a time. That’s a shame, because the RPG elements are quite solid. Building your fighter up is fun– each new level lets you increase his stats and abilities exactly how you like. There are a variety of upgradeable weapons, new skills, and potions to acquire.
As for the visuals, Braveheart isn’t spectacular looking, but they get the job done. The maps within each world look too similar, and there’s not a lot of extraneous detail.
On the surface, Braveheart has the foundation in place for a worthwhile portable action-RPG. Unfortunately, the lack of any variation in the gameplay takes a heavy toll. Braveheart is playable as a quick and brainless fix when you need to kill a few minutes, but that hardly makes it a good example of its genre.