Few game developers have distinguished themselves on the iPhone like Gamevil. With an extensive back catalog of South Korean mobile titles, Gamevil has taken advantage of the smartphone revolution in the U.S. to bring its high-quality RPGs to a new audience. Now, alongside Must Have iPhone RPGs like Zenonia and Hybrid, we can add Illusia.
Illusia is an action-RPG that takes place from a side-scrolling perspective, instead of the Zelda-like overhead perspective of the Zenonia series. You play as either a warrior or a mage, each with a different strength (weapons or magic) and an incredible amount of customization.
Your quest in the game starts out simple– just beat up a few nearby raccoons, monkeys, and kangaroos to pass your final exams. When members of your village go missing, you discover that the old creatures of the land are being hypnotized by an evil voice. It’s up to you to find the source of that voice, and defeat it for the good of your world.
Good to see Mario and Zelda finally had their baby.
The story in Illusia isn’t very original, but it is cleverly delivered through adorable characters and some witty dialogue. Nearly every quest in the game requires you to slay nearby creatures or collect items that they drop. Even though Illusia follows an old RPG formula and never strays from it, there’s more to this game than just mashing on the attack button.
For instance, you’ll have to explore the environments, which can be a little tricky once you start taking the level design into consideration. Each screen is swarming with enemies, and they respawn after a short amount of time, so you’ll have to navigate floating platforms while avoiding or fighting enemies.
The world map isn’t especially useful, because it only tells you the name of the nearby zones, and not how to get there. For example, your map may show the next zone as being to the right, but you’ll have to locate a warp portal in the upper-left to get there.
It’s an ancient tradition, going back about 30 years.
After you’ve become familiar with an area, it’s time to go to work completing quests and leveling up your character. With each level you’ll be able to improve your magic and attack skills, allowing you to customize your character’s play style. By the time you hit the triple-digit levels of experience, you’ll have a range of powerful attacks to unleash.
In addition to the quests, you can break off from your quest and try some “rush mode” challenges, take a chance on refining your gear at the blacksmith, or sell your gear online in the auction house. And once you’ve beaten the full game, you can play it all over again in hard mode, with all your own gear. In hard mode, those level 1 raccoons are up around level 100.
Illusia quickly establishes an obvious pattern: Slay enough creatures or collect enough of their loot, beat the area’s boss, and move on to the next town. But the way in which your character changes over time will keep you hooked, leading you to do things like fight enough creatures just so you can don a flashy new helmet and alter your appearance.
The side-scrolling perspective adds an interesting platforming element that wasn’t present in Zenonia, and the storyline isn’t nearly as overwrought as it was in Hybrid. Illusia is heavy on the action, but managing your gear is also fun, so you can take a break from fighting and just explore your inventory. Illusia’s depth and quality is refreshing on the App Store, and it’s apparent that Gamevil knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to mobile RPGs.