Ever since the original stunning teaser footage was released earlier this year, we’ve been anxiously waiting to play Uppercut Games’ Epoch. An Unreal-powered shooter that isn’t simply attempting to clone a console game, Epoch is the sort of game that could only be done on a touch screen. While the overall concept is fairly simple–it is, at heart, just a shooting gallery–the execution is masterful and intelligent.
The story line is pretty vague, especially at the start. A robot awakens amidst a sea of rubble and urban ruin to find one last missions still etched in its memory banks–save the princess. Thankfully, instead of being an Italian plumber, this robot is an acrobatic killing machine armed to the teeth with weapons. The goal of each of the 10 levels is simple: destroy all robots.
Don’t destroy the post-apocalypse.
To do so, you’ll hide behind cover, roll or flip to new cover, and shoot. There’s no actual roaming around. The game puts the robot in place, and the player can only navigate between the various bits of cover in the foreground, while enemies appear in the background. Jump, dodge, and shoot sums up the whole game. Epoch is in real danger of becoming repetitive because of this set-piece focused design, but it works because the controls just make sense.
Instead of shoehorning in a virtual D-pad and giving iOS gamers a weak clone of a console game, Epoch uses the concept of cover-based shooting to create an intense and gorgeous next-generation shooting gallery. To target a bot, just tap it and the player’s robot will automatically focus its attacks there. Swiping left or right causes the robot to roll to the cover in that direction. Swiping up makes it perform a leaping evasion. Tapping on special weapon icons like the grenade or rocket will unleash those attacks, which recharge after each use.
Duck and cover.
Other power-ups can be bought between levels, like a repair kit and time-slowing device. In addition, there are new weapons, armor, and other upgrades to purchase as well. Credits are earned by playing, and just going through the game once won’t let players come close to having enough wealth to buy the really high-end equipment.
Epoch is, like many mobile games, short. The 10 levels zoom by and can be completed in about an hour. The game starts on the easy difficulty, but each time through unlocks a higher challenge level. The end boss might prove tough for novice gamers even on easy, but the more hardcore players will breeze through. The more play time you put in, the more secrets are unraveled, including communications left behind by humans about what happened to the city.
Rounding Epoch out is a truly stunning presentation. It’s easily one of, if not the, best looking game we’ve seen on the iPhone and iPad, and the audio is excellent as well. Combine the gorgeous look with the superbly tuned touch-screen controls and high level of replayability, and result is a great and unique iOS action game that just wouldn’t work on a console.