Spellsword is for the grinders of the world, the looters, the hack-’n-slashers. It’s for fans of 16-bit graphics, and for people who don’t mind replaying the same small arenas over and over again to rack up currency and boost their stats. It’s not for everybody, but for those it appeals to, it’s very hard to put down.
Much like Super Crate Box or Muffin Knight, this game comes with just three arenas roughly the size of your device’s screen. You pick the one to be placed in, and then increasingly difficult waves of enemies swarm at you. Somewhere in the arena there’s always a spell card lying around, and if you pick it up it imbues your sword with elemental magic, like fire, ice, wind, or poison. These not only enhance your sword for a limited time, but most of them also send out cascades of projectiles that hone in on your enemies.
But I’m alergic to hornets!
So you run madly from one side of the screen to the other, grabbing spell cards and hacking through thickets of enemies, who explode into bits upon dying and drop rupees that scatter across the ground. The game has a charmingly chaotic feel to it– charming, at least, until it becomes overwhelming and you die. But the controls are tight, and you can double-jump, and dying usually feels inevitable rather than unfair.
The game is divided into Mission Mode and Endless Mode. Beating missions in the former either unlocks gear in the in-game store, or gives you bundles of rupees to spend there. The store is accessible between rounds, and it offers tons of options to boost your character’s magic abilities, hit points, and the like. Items you unlock by beating missions, however, still need to be purchased, and nothing is cheap.
Mushrooms and infected blobs.
Still, it’s such a well-calibrated system of struggle and reward that you’ll probably overlook the game’s drawbacks, like the limited number of environments and the lack of variety of the missions. Rather than getting caught up on the negatives, you’ll probably play through each stage’s 20 missions, and then strike out into Endless Mode, where you can continue to earn rupees to buff up your character and carve out an impressive place for yourself on the leaderboards. That is, if you’re that type of gamer.
Spellsword has a vibe similar to Hook Champ, with appealing retro graphics, catchy chiptunes, and silly one-liners before each mission. The gameplay is appealingly chaotic and intense. It’s probably not a game your mom will enjoy, but if your’e into grinding and powering up your character, don’t be surprised if you lose yourself in it for a few hours. We certainly did.