Skyfall Hands-On Preview

Skyfall, an upcoming game from Ngmoco, is one of the more interesting attempts we’ve seen to bring a full-fledged RPG experience to a mobile device. It has most of the basic ingredients of a Final Fantasy or a Dragon Quest– exploration, a clever fighting system, towns, loot drops, inventories, leveling up, and dungeons– but they’re packaged in such a way that you can experience them in short play sessions.

On the surface, Skyfall sounds a bit generic. You can choose to play as a rogue, a warrior, or a mage, and each class has the skills and stat allocations you’d expect if you’re familiar with the genre. The story is also well trodden territory: you’ll learn that monsters have started appearing in the world, and it’s your job to find out why and to stop them.

But here’s where Skyfall starts to show its innovation. To create a sense of exploration during short gameplay sessions, they’ve covered the outside world in a grid-like fog of war. To uncover the terrain and explore new locations, you have to spend energy. You and your friends can also access each other’s worlds, and uncover terrain for them if you’re feeling generous.

Scattered around that terrain are plenty of enemies. The fighting system is turn-based, so you’ll choose your attack and then play a timing-based minigame to see if your attack lands. The minigame is one you’ve probably seen before in golf games: a cursor starts moving across a bar, and you have to tap the screen when you want the cursor to stop. Most of the bar is green, representing normal damage, while a small section is red, indicating a critical hit. Depending on the battle, some of the bar may be black, signifying a miss. It’s a clever way to include the player in parts of the battles that would otherwise be based entirely on chance.

Other standard RPG features appear here, too, like loot drops, towns, shops, an inventory system, and a leveling mechanic. There’s also a social aspect, where you can fight using other players’ characters during certain battles, or team up for dungeon raids.

In short, there’s a lot packed into this game, and we’re looking forward to spending more time with it when it hits the App Store in the next few months. If you’re dying to play it now and you have access to an Android phone, you can join the open beta over there now. Interestingly, when it arrives on iOS, you’ll be able to access your saved game from any device, whether it’s Android or iOS.