Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers Hands-On Preview

It’s always a breath of fresh air when a new type of game comes to the iPhone. Since we are constantly inundated with puzzle games and shooters, it’s rare that we see something completely different. Such a game is headed to the App Store next month: Gamevil’s Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers. We recently got our hands on a preview build of the game, which solidified in our minds that this is one to keep an eye on.

Using an inked art style reminiscent of Okami (but without most of the color), Vanquish will let you take on the role of three brothers (Lei Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yi) during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history.

The game will be of the hack-and-slash variety, although you’ll be on horseback as you mow down the enemy hordes. This is what makes the game so uniquely refreshing; you aren’t plodding about like in a typical side-scrolling beat ‘em up.

Because of the speed of your horse, you can roam the countryside and slash up your foes with incredible swiftness. Not only that, but your movement is not limited solely to a 2-D plane. You can speed up and slow down the horse to focus on particular groups of enemies, as well as move north and south to access different areas. A small minimap in the corner helps you determine where enemies are located on the field.

The visuals are what make these battlefield maneuvers work. Thanks to some terrific parallax scrolling, the depth of field changes to give a pseudo-three-dimensional perspective. The hand-inked look adds further flare to the presentation, and the blood-spattering that occurs as you slash your enemies greatly stands out against the stark backdrops. You’ll also collect different-colored souls to enhance your powers, although we don’t think these will dramatically change the way the game plays.

The game’s story progresses along with the missions, although it seems to be told via text, which may get old for people who aren’t into this particular historical scene. After we spend more time with the final product, we’ll be better able to let you know if the story adds enough to keep the action from getting repetitive over time.

There is no denying that this game will be heralded for its impressive visual appeal, but like any game, that alone is not enough to make it successful. We look forward to playing the final version and giving you our full opinion in the coming weeks.

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