If you’ve watched an Apple press event in the last three years, Infinity Blade needs no introduction. Apple has been publicly pushing this series far more than any other games, because Infinity Blade is both an iOS exclusive and a magnificent showcase for their technology. Between its epic storyline, incredible visuals, and oft-imitated gameplay, Infinity Blade is a series that was made to last.
The first Infinity Blade game launched on iOS shortly after a tech demo, Epic Citadel, showed the world what was possible when you used the Unreal Engine on iOS. Originally called Project Sword, Infinity Blade revolves around one-on-one duels that let you duck, block, and swing with onscreen taps and swipes. Although it’s similar to the old boxing game Punch-Out, Infinity Blade made great new use of the touchscreen, letting you feel in full control of the combat. Infinity Blade also came up with a clever way to reuse the same location multiple times– when you died, you could return as your descendant, wearing his father’s armor and feeling a bit stronger than the last generation. Infinity Blade was the People’s Choice for our 2010 Game of the Year.
Key Quote: “Infinity Blade represents a milestone for how good games can look on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Although the gameplay is limited, Infinity Blade is extremely fun and masterfully assembled. Any serious iOS gamer should grab this one up.”
Infinity Blade II
How do you top a game as popular and beloved as Infinity Blade? For Epic, the answer was more of everything: More locations, weapons, and plot. With a story that included multiple characters, actual dialogue, and rapid changes in scenery, the second game expanded on a world that was only hinted at by the first game. Now, the characters had a shared history that would take full novels to explain. Infinity Blade II also provides players with different types of weapons, like heavy hammers and lightweight daggers, which affect the way you can move and block. Just one look at this game tells you that it’s more impressive, visually, than just about any other mobile game. It’s no wonder that Infinity Blade was chosen by our editors and readers as our 2011 Game of the Year.
Key Quote: “In just about every way, Infinity Blade 2 builds on the rock-solid foundation of the original game, and delivers an experience that’s as tense, deep, gorgeous, and enjoyable as anything you’ll find on the platform.”
Infinity Blade: Dungeons
Revealed onstage at Apple’s iPad press event in 2012 and unceremoniously cancelled a year later, Infinity Blade: Dungeons was meant to switch up the gameplay of the series while still keeping with the characters and universe. We were fortunate enough to be able to play Dungeons at E3 in 2012, and you can read our hands-on preview to imagine what might have been. With gameplay similar to Diablo, but using a combination of swipe and tap controls that took advantage of the touchscreen, the demo of Dungeons felt very promising. We were also intrigued by the sword-smithing minigame and variety of wild monsters. We suspect that fans won’t let go of the idea, and will keep asking Epic to resurrect this spin-off.
Key Quote: “After we beat the first level’s miniboss, an armor-covered direwolf, we were taken to another unique minigame for forging new weapons. Using materials you mine, you can craft new warhammers or blades, which will have different special attacks. First, you’ll hammer out imperfections in another timing-based minigame similar to mining, and then you’ll polish the blade by rubbing on the screen. The end result is a weapon that not only looks cool and is effective, but you’ll feel like you made it with your own hands.”
Infinity Blade III
Infinity Blade III was released earlier this month, after yet another Apple-backed promotion onstage. While the graphics are incredible, we found that the gameplay has barely changed since the second game, despite some new characters and a wandering storyline. You still have to face enemies one-on-one, even though one of the characters comes equipped with a crossbow, and the smaller zones meant that repetition stands out even more than it did in the first game. If you want to complete the trilogy, Infinity Blade III is still very fun, but we hope that upcoming installments try to branch out in new and exciting ways, to keep this series from being locked into a constant cycle of rebirth.
Key Quote: “In many ways, Infinity Blade III is grandiose and gorgeous, and the gear that you can unlock is exquisitely detailed. However, the taps and swipes that propel the actual gameplay are starting to feel like the least engaging part of the experience.”
Tomorrow, we’ll continue our 50 Best Game Series with League of Evil, a platforming trilogy where your punches are explosive.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.