Thursday, October 29, 2009

REVIEW: Underworlds for the iPhone

Underworlds is a hack and slash game for the iPhone that accomplishes a lot despite the diminutive size and stature of the platform it's on. While you might not think of very deep experiences when you consider iPhone games, but Underworlds does a great deal to combat that stereotype.

Of course you'll have start by slaying rats in a basement, but the action quickly ramps up to extensive dungeon crawls and lots of evil skeleton bodies lying around. The looting also lends a large hand to the motivation behind you as a player. I sometimes run into points of RPGs and deep experience games where I just don't know why I'm still playing with nothing particularly exciting or exhilarating going on.

How many times will I have to traverse the world map before I find the enemy or shrine I'm looking for? Luckily, Underwolds does away with that feeling by including quick quests and short distances between where you are assigned a task and where you'll find that task's conclusion.

While I did find some frustration in a handful of battles I didn't seem to have enough health potions for, I will say that overall developer Pixel Mine did a great job of making sure that the difficulty doesn't ramp up faster than your characters leveling. Experience is always trackable on the bottom screen so you'll know how many monsters you have left until you have more skill points to spread around.

Speaking of skill points in fact, Underworlds maintains a fair amount of depth in it's system,
with different character classes and specific characteristics to level up, the players character can end up as one thing or another depending on how you play the game.

While the animations can be a little slow and the action can chug when there are a lot of enemies on screen, there's very little, graphically, to complain about. Ultimately you're getting an experience that's deeper than even arcade-classic Gauntlet (minus the multiplayer) that you can fit in your pocket for only $2.99.

I've saved my highest praise for last, because well, this was really a game-making bullet point for me. The inclusion of HUD buttons for your potions literally made the game for me. You don't have to pause the action on screen, you don't have to die because you couldn't use another potion fast enough, and you don't have to look far for your HP gauge. It's on the screen already! That shows a fair amount of consideration for the player from Pixel Mine.

You can download Underworlds from the App Store for you iPhone or iPod Touch. It requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later.


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