Goblin Sword, produced by Gelato Games, caught my attention as it hit the top of the gaming app chart for iOS. I have to admit for a $0.99 game with no advertising or in app purchases, I was not expecting a lot, but if you read on you will see I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s a pretty basic storyline, you play a warrior that has to battle through stages collecting coins and gems, destroying bosses, upgrading weapons and generally hacking and slashing your way through the levels.
The game is split into three main areas (The Great Forest, Ancient Castle and Dark Caves) accessed by the world map. Each theme has 16 levels including two bosses. You can also access a merchant from the map who allows you to upgrade your weapons, armor and relics with gold collected from the game.
As is the case with games of this genre the controls are absolutely critical and often make or break a game. In the move from consoles to mobiles, I think platformers have really struggled with the transition from controllers to touch screen. Often this involves some kind of auto run, reducing player input to just jump and attack.
I was pleased to discover the controls in Goblin Sword don't use the autorun feature, allowing you to fully explore the levels without having to restart if you accidently run past something! Whilst it has fairly simple forward/backward buttons on the left and jump/attack on the right, they are very responsive and easy to pick up immediately.
An interesting feature in the game is the double jump ability, which effectively allows you to jump once again in midair. This not only allows you to reach high platforms, but also can save you from accidently falling down gaps, by allowing you to jump in mid air.
The game has indie/retro graphics, with pixelated characters and scenery. It’s easy to go too simplistic with this style and end up with a pretty rubbish looking game. I feel Goblin Sword have got the balance just about right, not too basic, but not too polished to lose the retro feel.
The levels are bright, colourful and enjoyable to play through. The game could have done with a few more level types than the three included, but you can’t complain too much for the cost.
A nice addition to the game is the ability to upgrade your weapons and armor. You collect gems from killing monsters which award you with coins. These coins can be used to purchase items from the merchant. You can also find items in treasure chests, which will then be available once you return to the merchant at no cost.
The weapons have three attributes: attack, range and speed. Each stat varies from 1 to 3 and reduces the number of attacks it takes to kill a monster, increases your weapons range and the speed with which you swing your sword.
As far as I can tell armor is purely decorative only, which is a shame as it would have added another element to the upgrades. Colliding with any monster or hazard simply loses one heart from your life meter and swapping your armor does not appear to change this.
My favourite upgrades are the relics. You can only equip one at a time, but each offers its own unique bonus. Examples includes the Shadow Cloak (allowing you to run faster), the Dragon Pendant (summons a mini dragon that hovers just behind you, attacking monsters) and my favourite the Winged Boots.
The Winged Boots allow you to do a triple jump instead of the standard double jump. This allows you to reach higher platforms and more importantly allows you to avoid falling in lava or down gaps. This comes in very handy in the later levels. (See the end of the review for a spoiler on where to find them).
The levels are all fairly short and can usually be completed in under 5 minutes. That said the difficulty does progress nicely and later levels will take you many attempts to conquer. Each level has two treasure chests and three diamonds to collect before you can mark it as complete.
Treasure chests contain gems (which turn into coins when collected) and occasionally items which can be equipped in the shop. You can also find hearts which are used to extend your health bar, it takes three hearts to permanently increase your life by one.
You need to find all the chests and gems in each area to unlock the final level. This level is much harder than the rest of the area.
Every eight levels you come across a boss. They range in difficulty, but most will take you a few attempts to beat. This is where the later weapons come in very handy and you may need to come back to some of the bosses once you have upgraded your items.
If you are a platformer fan, then Goblin Sword is a great little time waster when you have a few minutes to spare. The item upgrades add an RPG element to the game, which keeps you coming back for more until you have unlocked all the weapons and relics.
The only downside is the game could really do with a few more level themes, but perhaps this will be added in future updates. Overall for the price you won't be disappointed.
The Winged Boots allow you to perform a triple jump, but you need to find them in game first. They are located in level 8 of the caves. At the beggining of the level you need to do a double jump from the right hand edge of the starting platform. You will jump through the wall into a secret passage that leads two floating platforms, double jump your way up to the chest to unlock the Winged Boots!
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