Ash II: Shadows Review

Ash II: Shadows is Konami and SRRN’s newest RPG offering for iPhone. This follow-up to CRRN’s well-received throwback mostly trades in Japanese RPG conventions, but also finds its own voice with some snarky dialog.

The writing in Ash II is easily its most distinctive characteristic. Because of the unusual tone it adopts, it dodges a lot of the traditional cliches of the genre. Still, you’ll find yourself using magic, swords, and axes to defeat the forces of evil. As of this review, the story is kind of anticlimactic, but that’s because only one chapter of it is available for now. Players who buy the Gold edition of the game are guaranteed all future chapters for no additional charge, while those who purchase Silver will only get the first two chapters of what has potential to be a pretty entertaining saga.

No shirts no shoes no service, punk.

The characters are defined fairly well, but someone who didn’t play the original Ash is likely going to feel quite lost in some of the grander points of the story. The game doesn’t spare much effort to get newcomers caught up with the fiction, even though the members of your party will frequently make casual comments about their past adventures together.

There aren’t too many surprises in the actual gameplay of Ash II. You roll around with a healer lady and two men who are quite adept at hitting monsters with weapons. You’ll encounter some other companions as you progress through the game’s highly linear campaign as well. Unfortunately, using tactics or teamwork is entirely unnecessary until the chapter’s final boss fight. We never had a character so much as faint until that point, and your characters start the game in an oddly powerful state.

I hope this conversation doesn’t “drag-on.”

This makes the combat feel more like a formality than a challenge, and we found ourselves dodging encounters just because we didn’t feel the slightest need to grind. Never being under-leveled has its advantages, but it seems like Ash II swings too hard in the other direction. You could probably get away with using nothing but simple attacks for the duration of the campaign, and the game doesn’t have difficulty options.

When you finish the first chapter of Ash II: Shadows, you’re warped into an area where you can grind levels out against arenas full of monsters, but– as we just described– there isn’t much incentive to pump up your party’s stats. In its current state, Ash II is a reasonably pleasant way to pass the time for a few hours, but it really depends on how later chapters shape up to determine if it can be much better than that.

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