Solomon’s Boneyard is a prequel to the very entertaining dungeon crawler Solomon’s Keep. In it, Solomon Dark, the titular villain, is just beginning to dabble in the dark arts, and you must venture into a graveyard and battle waves of enemies to flush him out. Unlike the original, this is a high-score survival game, so the goal is to last as long as possible. This new direction works for the most part, but at the cost of some of the original’s elegance and charm.
First of all, the twin-stick controls, streamlined leveling system, and over-the-top voice acting from Solomon’s Keep are all intact. But instead of starting with an empty template for your wizard, you will select one of seven characters that come pre-loaded with basic starting spells geared toward the elements of fire, lightning, ice, or magic missile. To further customize your character, you can spend gold you’ve accumulated during past play sessions to add new starting abilities. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can buy gold as an in-app purchase.
Shine on you crazy wand.
Instead of the somewhat cookie cutter castle environment from the first game, you will do battle in a lush and varied graveyard. The graphics look great, and there’s even some slick new tech that allows for dynamic shadows and foreground objects that partially obscure your view. It’s an environment that’s fraught with danger, as overhanging trees can hide enemies and open graves can hinder your movement.
The game would probably be a little too light on content if it did not also include OpenFeint integration. This adds a lot for fans who want to compare their scores or try to tackle some of the achievements. As a whole, the game feels more challenging than its predecessor, but you will probably be relatively unhindered for the first 5-10 minutes of each play session before finding yourself in trouble.
I ain’t saying she’s a grave digger.
One thing that really set Solomon’s Keep above the pack was how it was able to streamline deep dungeon crawling gameplay into a fast-paced mobile experience. Even though these mechanics still work in Solomon’s Boneyard, it is a little harder to become attached to your character because everything happens so fast. And with no treasure chests or boss fights, the game feels less epic and addictive than its predecessor.
Despite our gripes, Solomon’s Boneyard is a fun game that is built on a solid foundation. If you liked Solomon’s Keep, then do yourself a favor and go get this game. If you are new to the series, you should probably start with Solomon’s Keep, as it’s a great introduction to the more frantic gameplay found in this prequel.