Full-featured dungeon crawlers and decadent RPG offerings are rarer on iOS than you might think– good ones, anyway– so when newcomers appear with a heaping helping of potential on the horizon, we pay attention. We first went hands-onwith Wraithborne and were met with an attractive, enjoyable dungeon crawler a la Diablo or one of the many clones out there, and the final product doesn’t disappoint. Magic and goblin-slaying of this magnitude looks and feels good, and we eagerly set out on this quest to make it our own.
The core mechanics of the hack-and-slash RPG have stayed faithful to genre conventions over the years, and Wraithborne follows them very closely. This go-around finds you in the shoes of a titular Wraithborne, one of the last humans in existence in a world where the race has been slowly dwindling. It’s up to you to traverse the land and bring peace to the wartorn world before things worsen further.
On your way to complete this task you’ll be faced with countless enemies to fell as well as plenty of areas to explore. While labeled an action-RPG, Wraithborne is packed full of more combat than anything else, and it shows. Thankfully there’s plenty of ground to cover, and as you battle your way across the landscape the world of Wraithborne quickly showcases fluid combat and the addictive ability to smash things in the face and/or incapacitate them with magic.
The screen, it’s bleeding.
Using touch controls (the left stick to control your hero’s movement and attack buttons to the right) you’ll trek through the fantasy wasteland, exterminating all threats in your way. Melee combat feels rewarding on its own, but the real meat and potatoes comes in the form of magical runes a la Arx Fatalis that grant special powers. You’re allowed a set number of each and may access them from the top right of the screen. The rune symbol will appear and you’ll be asked to trace it in order to unleash the spell. It sounds gimmicky, but it actually makes you feel somewhat like you’ve stepped into the confines of a fantasy world.
In addition to runes and standard melee attacks, you’ve got the shield icon at your disposal, which you can tap for a quick deflection of oncoming attacks. If you double-tap the shield icon you’ll complete a defensive roll move that should be used sparingly.
Strategic combinations of rune usage, melee strikes, and defensive maneuvers work well together,and the touch controls are quick and responsive. Rune powers have a satisfying range of abilities, such as summoning meteors or less destructive abilities that can serve as buffs. Runes do not consume MP, but they only last a limited time.
As you slaughter beasts and engage in the errant combat waves the slivers of RPG elements such as collecting money for better items and rune upgrades make themselves known. Wraithborne is best regarded as RPG-lite aside from these elements, as there is little story save for that exhibited across cut scenes that aren’t anywhere as engaging as a traditional role-plaing game’s. There’s plenty to kill, but it’s important to bear in mind that most of your time spent in Wraithborne will be spent clashing with enemies.
Tonight we feast on orc-meat.
As such, you may find the repetitive activites becoming a bit of a slog. There’s little else to do beyond killing all in your path. Additionally, sometimes it’s difficult to discern what path you should be taking. There are no objective markers, so it can become a bit confusing when deciding which way to go next. We found it best to play in small doses to keep on track and keep yourself primed for the next slaughter you’ll engage in. The game can also be a little brutal, so expect to die quite a few times before making it to the next area before you’ve become experienced enough to know when to hold back and when to charge ahead in battle.
The backing audio tracks aren’t particularly memorable, but the Unreal Engine ensures Wraithborne looks absolutely fantastic. It’s colorful, vivid, and detailed– just like a good adventure should be, and we can see the engine showing its true colors here. It’s especially striking, and one thing Wraithborne should certainly be praised for.
Higher-than-average quality visuals and tight combat work together to make Wraithborne a gnarly monster-slaying quest you should embark on, despite its occasional samey feel and difficulty. It’s a polished endeavor that you should certainly check out if you’re looking for a new fantasy world to lose yourself in on the subway. Aren’t we all?