Infinity Blade Hands-On Preview

If you’ve been following Infinity Blade, the much-anticipated action RPG from Chair Entertainment and Epic Games, then you probably know that it will hit the App Store on Wednesday night. We got our hands on the final build of the game early, so we thought we’d give you an idea of what to expect if you’re thinking about plunking down $5.99 for it.

First of all, it’s important to establish what Infinity Blade is not. It’s not a massive RPG with an epic storyline and dozens of characters. You’ll find no towns or side quests or secret caves to explore. In fact, when you’re wandering around in the game world, you can’t move freely at all.

So what do you do in Infinity Blade? You make your way through a medieval castle, fighting a series of hulking armor-clad men, machines, and beasts along the way. Your goal is to reach the throne room, where the God King waits for you to arrive. When you get there, you battle this near-immortal overlord just as you fought his minions. Only he’s much more difficult.

In all likelihood, you’ll die. And when you do, the game flashes forward a number of years and starts over, only now you’re the son of the hero you just led to an early grave. And now that the son is of age, he wants to avenge his father’s death. The cool thing is that the son retains all of the items, equipment, and experience that his father earned. This cycle of your hero’s bloodline battling the God King continues until one son finally succeeds.

As you slay the God King’s minions, you earn gold and experience points. You’ll gain levels and assign stat points to increase your strength, defense, magic, and health. There’s also a long list of weapons and armor– each with different values and stat boosts– that you can find or purchase. But as you grow stronger, so do the enemies.

And the battles are far from boring in Infinity Blade. Fighting takes place in real time, so you have to dodge, block, and parry your opponents’ attacks by tapping and swiping on the screen at the right moments. When you glimpse an opening, you have to act quickly and use your sword or magic attacks to whittle down your opponent’s health. When you win, you’re treated to a cutscene of your hero slaying the enemy.

Once you’ve killed an enemy, you can advance through the castle. Instead of having full control over your character like you do in Epic Citadel, however, in Infinity Blade you move like you’re in an adventure game. Blue circles indicate where you can go in the environment. Tap one, and you see a quick cutscene of your character walking there. We should also note that you never have more than two choices. It’s about as far from an open world as it gets.

That said, it might seem strange that the game Infinity Blade reminds us of most is PlayStation 2′s Shadow of the Colossus. In both games you are completely alone in a beautifully rendered but eerie world. Each battle in Infinity Blade is a one-on-one affair, and oftentimes your enemy is much bigger than you. And both games are deeply cinematic. Infinity Blade even puts black bars on the top and bottom of the screen during cutscenes.

We’ve battled through the castle three times so far, and we get a little closer to slaying the God King each time. The game is different from what we had expected, but it’s a unique and enthralling experience from the start. We’ll post our full review as soon as Infinity Blade hits the App Store on Wednesday night. If you have any questions, post them below and we’ll do our best to answer them.