Infinity Blade: Dungeons Hands-On Preview

Though we were told at E3 that Infinity Blade: Dungeons would launch in late 2012, AllThingsD is now reporting that Epic has pushed back the release date to 2013. Although it’s disappointing that we won’t have a new Infinity Blade game launching right before Christmas for the first time in a few years, what we played at E3 was a very promising “vertical slice” that would benefit from added content and polish.

Today at E3, we had a chance to play two full levels of one of the year’s most anticipated iOS games, Infinity Blade: Dungeons. Read on for your first details on the controls, enemies, and forging and mining minigames.

Infinity Blade: Dungeons is set before the events of the first Infinity Blade game. You play as an apprentice to the Forge Master, but Epic is keeping most of the plot under wraps for now. You can’t change characters or classes, but you can equip new gear and weapons which will change the apprentice’s appearance.

In our demo, we started off in a snow-covered castle. We moved our character using taps and attacked with swipes– a d-pad-free scheme that was incredibly intuitive. In fact, the only buttons onscreen are for health potions and the pause menu. Special moves are performed with double taps, or by pressing and holding or drawing a circle on the screen.

Our first few enemies, wolves and icy spiders, went down in defeat without much effort. Between fights, we could search for treasure chests and breakable crates. Then, we discovered a vein of ore, which we could mine using a special timing-based minigame. While mining, a bar appears on the screen with a rapidly-moving marker. You have to time your taps to receive a particular material. Precious materials, like platinum, are harder to mine, while copper is more plentiful.

After we beat the first level’s miniboss, an armor-covered direwolf, we were taken to another unique minigame for forging new weapons. Using materials you mine, you can craft new warhammers or blades, which will have different special attacks. First, you’ll hammer out imperfections in another timing-based minigame similar to mining, and then you’ll polish the blade by rubbing on the screen. The end result is a weapon that not only looks cool and is effective, but you’ll feel like you made it with your own hands. Our gleaming new warhammer was helpful when we faced the demo’s final boss, an armored bear that looked like something out of The Golden Compass.

There is still quite a bit we don’t know about Infinity Blade: Dungeons yet. Epic wouldn’t reveal details of the story and other environments, or confirm the existence of in-app purchases or multiplayer of any kind. They also wouldn’t tell us the exact release date, price, or which iOS systems it will run on.

Many of these details will likely be revealed before the game launches later this year. But from our time with the demo, this is already feeling like a console-quality action-RPG, with great graphic and controls. Where it fits into the existing Infinity Blade universe still remains to be seen.

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