Those who've been keeping up
with Gameloft's recent string of mobile hits are probably aware of their
expertise at bringing original titles to Apple's devices that take more than a
few ’inspired’ liberties from other established games, and while some consider
their work borderline digital plagiarism, they almost almost deliver competent
and enjoyable versions that live up to the spirit of the originals. With
intergalactic space marines and
modern guerrilla warfare already in
the bag, they’re upping the ante with Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden, which can genuinely be described as an ambitious link to a
more well-known action/role-playing adventure series, and one that succeeds
almost without trying or using much force.
Your journey begins in the land of Lasgalen
where you assume the role of Ayden, a simple farm boy whose destiny is more than
it seems. It doesn’t take long for the young work hand to stumble upon a chance
encounter to save a young Princess from a few rouge orcs, which jumpstarts a quest that will test
both his courage and faith to the god Uryah, as well as rid his realm of the ominous
evil known as Amonbane.
In his efforts to save his homeland from certain doom he'll have to
explore the vast countryside on horseback and find the four fragments of ryah’s
Holy Grail by engaging in third-person hack n’ slash action with healthy doses
of puzzle-solving in between. You’ll find yourself inside a mystical
tree in order to purify evil one moment, in an active volcano to quell it’s inferno
the next, and
finally face-to-face with the evil sorcerer himself. The tale unfolds
through in-game cinematics that will have Ayden not only saving the world but
also doing his fair share of good deed questing along the way, no matter how
insignificant the task may be.
It also goes without saying that your epic with
begin with a simple blade and shield, but you'll soon acquire tools that make the challenges easier
and help prepare you the final battle ahead. If you happened to have played a
game like this before be prepared to find items like the Gauntlet of Brakor
(power glove), Locrian Hawk (boomerang), and the Nagual Cobra (grappling hook).
This should for anyone who’s ever sat down with
that ‘certain’ game starring a young lad clad in a green tunic (Ayden even gets a
talkative fairy companion along the way), and a true qualifier that imitation truly
is among the most sincere
form of flattery.
The controls feel remarkably familiar too, and
that’s a good thing if you weren’t expecting responsive third-person control from a touchscreen
game. Movement is handled through the onscreen virtual stick while basic combat
uses virtual buttons for attack and blocking, and it doesn’t take long
to become fully accustomed to them when in the thick of
surrounding orcs and navigating through villages and dungeons. Combat is seldom
more than frantic (virtual) button-mashing that auto-targets the closest enemy;
a system that works to help alleviate instances when the camera isn't
cooperating like it should. Ayden also sports a small jump/dodge maneuver
(surprise) in non-combat moments, and cycling through your inventory is a fairly
The polished visuals really look great, especially when viewed on Apple's
crisp Retina Display, and benefit greatly running on latter-day hardware
configurations (I played the game on the iPod Touch 4). There's great detail in the various locales and environments you’ll
travel through, from lush grasslands to the frigid mountaintops of the north the
areas they're vivid and pretty immersive for a mobile game. This feat extends to the
characters as well, as each model looks identifiable and
recognizable, an aspect we seldom see in most console games.
The only other thing you'll possibly need to even see (and play) this would
be a iPod Touch or iPhone with the latest hardware (3G or above), as the game
won't run on some older versions. Then again, its
probably time to upgrade your Apple device anyway.
ThThose decrying the game as just a shameless rip of one of Nintendo's most
popular franchises (indeed, Ayden's horses are named Miya and Moto) are missing
its second most obvious inspiration, namely Lionhead Studios' Fable franchise,
right down to its more realistic characters and British-style humor. It
also brings surprisingly good voice-acting (for a Gameloft game) to bring this
fabled tale alive, plenty of NPC interactions, along with plenty of
miscellaneous questing along the way. The only thing missing is a pet dog.
Then again, you do have two horses...
If you can manage to get past the obvious comparisons and cribbed ideas to
some of the genre's best games then Sacred Odyssey: Rise of
Ayden is probably the best and most enjoyable third-person action role-playing
puzzle adventure worth playing on the Apple's iOS platform. The story and setting
are what you'd expect from most games in the fantasy genre and somewhat predictable, but
still more than adequate, as the real draw is solely on the technical presentation
and addictive action-puzzle gameplay seen. Yes, it may borrow liberally from
both The Legend of Zelda and Fable franchises, but at least Gameloft isn't
trying to hide their love (the hero's two horses are named Miya and Moto) and the replication provides enough satisfaction if a quick and
deliberate mystical adventure is what you’re after.