If you've been following TouchArcade, you've seen that we've been closely keeping up on Gameloft's Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden [Free] since before it even had a title. Early on we suspected it to be an action oriented game with Zelda-like mechanics, and that turned out to be true. I also mentioned that I'll play any Zelda game and any game that vaguely resembles a Zelda game without issue, regardless of how good or bad it is. So, I've fulfilled that blood oath by spending a ridiculous amount of time yesterday and today powering through Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden.

Before I get carried away, it's probably a good idea to discuss Gameloft's new approach to how they're selling their games now. They're labeling it "freemium", which seems to differ from everyone else's definition of the word. Instead, it seems more along the lines of a demoware, with the rest of the game available via a single in-app purchase. Basically, now instead of a paid and lite version of the game, there's a single version. In Sacred Odyssey, you're able to play through the first few missions (which more or less amounts to the tutorial) and get a good handle on what's coming in the rest of the game. This takes about 15 minutes. After that, a screen comes up asking you to make a one-time in-app purchase of $6.99 to continue.

Reactions on our forums have varied wildly from people who think this is an interesting approach to people frothing with rage. Personally, this kind of thing is what I always hoped for when I first heard about in-app purchasing coming to the App Store. The benefits of this are massive. Instead of downloading a lite version, getting 15 minutes in, hitting the end of it, and downloading the full version only to do that 15 minutes over again you can just keep on truckin' after making your IAP. It also helps to remove clutter from the App Store since separate lite and paid versions of Sacred Odyssey aren't needed. Sure, the download size may be a little bigger than your average lite version, but you're actually saving time and bandwidth by not needing to download a second game if you decide you like it.

The opening of Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden takes a cue from many other RPG's and begins with a dream sequence where a mysterious princess is calling out to you. After doing some dirty work around your village, you start off on your adventure, and believe it or not actually end up meeting this mysterious princess inside the first 15 minutes of playing the game. She sends you off on your first task which involves visiting the first dungeon, snagging your first piece of loot, fighting the first boss, and discovering that you're not just some mild-mannered townsperson-- You're a grail seeker. You then return back to your home town only to find it ravaged by orcs and burnt to the ground. From here, the plot takes a curious turn down Star Wars street, and if this cut scene doesn't remind you of Luke returning to Uncle Owen's farm on Tatooine, nothing will.

This brings me to my first issue with Sacred Odyssey-- It's like the writers couldn't really decide if this is supposed to be a serious fantasy game, a pop culture parody game, or a comedy game. Dialog varies wildly from heavy-handed RPG cliches of foretold prophecies, to your fairy companion telling you that a mythical sword of the gods is "uber-sharp" and "begging to slice and dice". Meanwhile, you've got two horses, "Miya" and "Moto." It feels incredibly disjointed. The good news is, Gameloft's voice acting seems significantly better than previous offerings, so even though dialog is cringe-worthy at times, at least it's voiced well.

Solid dialog and plot lines have never been Gameloft's strong points, but thankfully, the actual gameplay in Sacred Odyssey is awesome. The game is controlled using a virtual joystick and variety of virtual buttons. Like most Gameloft games, these are all completely configurable, although I've had no issue with the defaults. Fighting works well, and unsurprisingly has a Hero of Sparta feel to it, with virtual buttons for swinging your sword as well as blocking or dodging if you hit the block button while holding the virtual joystick in the direction you'd like to roll. Combat is actually really fun, and you'll often find yourself in situations where you'll need to be evasive and defensive instead of just mindlessly mashing your attack as if it were an "I Win!" button.

Progressing through the main storyline involves taking various quests, which inevitably lead you to people who have other quests, and then eventually a dungeon. These dungeons often have puzzles which much like other Zelda-esque games involve sliding blocks around or using whatever item you just received to overcome obstacles. Of course no dungeon would be complete without loads of bad guys, and a massive boss at the end, two things you'll also find in Sacred Odyssey. Boss battles are a lot of fun, even though they can sometimes feel like going through the motions of "Oh hey, I just got this ability, time to use it over and over on this dude until he dies," but that seems to be the case for any game following this formula.

Aside from the main quest line, there are an ample amount of side quests too, although none of them that I've come across have been particularly engaging or offer good rewards. Still, it's cool that they're there, as they provide a bit of a distraction from just running from dungeon to dungeon. Along the way you'll also collect blue orbs, as seemingly everything spews them. These are used to purchase things from a vendor who follows you around. You can buy everything from simple potions, to potions that heal a larger amount of life, to extremely expensive power-ups.

While Gameloft isn't treading on any kind of new or original territory (as at times, Sacred Odyssey feels like a direct carbon copy of Zelda, Darksiders, or both) but there just isn't anything else like this on the App Store. We'll likely never see a real Zelda game either, so I suppose I don't really mind playing Gameloft's "highly inspired" version of it. If you love Zelda-style games, this isn't one you should pass up, especially to see what you think of Gameloft's new payment method.

What's going to be fun to watch is where Gameloft goes from here, as although I had a bunch of fun with Sacred Odyssey, it's hard to dispute the fact that the graphics do look a bit dated compared to more recent releases-- Especially those utilizing the Unreal Engine. Also, it will be curious to see whether or not Gameloft sticks with this payment method for several reasons: They're now competing on the free charts, which is substantially more competitive than the paid charts. Sites like AppShopper don't (and can't) track sales of items purchased via IAP, as Apple doesn't offer this data as part of their third party App Store API. This means that all the people who save Gameloft games to a wishlist and wait for sales aren't going to get any notification. Last, but certainly not least, the IAP transaction requires an active internet connection on your device, which may be an issue for iPod touch users.

Regardless, I had a ton of fun with Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden, and highly recommend any Zelda fan give it a try. You'll have a great idea of whether or not you want to continue by the time you hit the pay wall, and hopefully you're somewhere with connectivity so you can proceed past it.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • backtothis

    Great review guy.

    This pretty much sums up everything about the game.

  • Nibus

    SHILL REVIEW by the newest sell out web site Touch Arcade.

    • Anonymous

      What, they can't like a game?

  • Gcandle

    Where's the pie?

  • Anonymous

    "Instead of downloading a lite version, getting 15 minutes in, hitting the end of it, and downloading the full version only to do that 15 minutes over again you can just keep on truckin' after making your IAP."

    Isn't the opposite effect a massive negative though? Having to download hundreds of megabytes of app only to find out it's terrible and you don't want it? After happening with two or three games I can see myself not bothering to try some at all.

    • Adams Immersive

      However, Lite versions are often almost as large a download as the full version anyway.

      I too hoped and assumed that all these “Lite” versions would be a thing of the past. But it seems that’s not how things have shaken out.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds like lazy developing. Lite versions shouldn't be the same size unless someone can't be bothered to make one properly and decides to limit the full version and release that as a lite instead. If game sizes are getting bigger this kind of thing should be done properly.

    • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

      Surely this isn't a big deal. A few hundred mb will only take a minute or so to download anyway.

      • Anonymous

        How charmingly assuming of you. Stick to your own little bubble of happiness and don't even pretend to know how things might work for other people. "A minute", hah!

      • hara

        most people would kill to have that kind of internet speed..

  • jj

    I think dialog should be dialogue.

    • jj

      Or I was never taught to spell it like that :/

      Good review... I don't think this game is for me. The graphics do look amazing.

    • jj

      Or I was never taught to spell it like that :/

      Good review... I don't think this game is for me. The graphics do look amazing.

    • jj

      Or I was never taught to spell it like that :/

      Good review... I don't think this game is for me. The graphics do look amazing.

  • Ender

    One of the problems I have with this model, though, is that I don't know if price-reduction websites will recognize any drop in price a developer makes. In other words, I usually wait a few months before buying a game on the App Store to see if the price drops, and I do this through Appshopper (not a plug, that's just the site I use), which will give me updates when the price drops, but it doesn't do in-app-purchase price drops, so this game might not make it on their radar.

  • StarLad

    I don't agree that an IAP of the full game is prefferrable from the users perspective compared to a separate purchase from the AppStore. IAP only benefits developers because it prevents users from waiting for a sale to purchase the game so the user is always paying full price for the game - not to mention the ethics of advertising a game as 'free' when the reality is anything but.

    • Anonymous

      They can always decrease the price of the IAP as well... And I'm sure that they would change the name (like some already do) to Sacred Odyssey - SALE!!!!!! in that case to get the word out.

    • Thaurin

      Make no mistake: sales always benefit the developer. It is a marketing tactic. Also, when you get the game, you can clearly see that it has in-app purchases, so I don't really see that as advertising it as free.

  • MoHeyNow

    "In a world fashioned by God's flesh, a demon is willing to embrace chaos, save princess Lyanora" WTF? It's like their saying "you know what, %@$! it we don't even care anymore" my 2 year old nephew could accidentally write a more inspired plot in his spilled carrot sauce

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      hahahahah... 'we give up'...just button mash already, ok?

  • Klouud

    While I understand why they went with this type of graphical model - Most iPhone users are adults, and the "adults" ripped Nintendo a new one after Wind Waker - I really was hoping that gameloft would go for a more "Minish Cap" look and handle controls much the way the DS Zeldas did.

    • Klouud

      ...Oh... And I personally like the pricing model. I don't really think that games should go on $0.99 sales - I like to support the devs by purchasing games that I like/want @ full price. And if devs are able to collect more money then they are more likely to invest more time in the next game.

      Plus I spammed gameloft for a game like this for months!!

      Now we need a Kill Zone (PSP) clone and a Monster Hunter Clone!! Hooray!!

      • Gwet17

        Too bad their best games came out in the last few months... your loss.

      • Klouud

        ..umm... what?

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      " I really was hoping that gameloft would go for a more "Minish Cap" look"

      I love how you talk about Gameloft as if they invented Zelda. lmfao. That says alot about GL's recent track record of knockoff's.

  • Nasubi

    the IAP didnt bother me at all.. as long as i can still download the pirated version like all other games...

    • Anonymous

      People like you are why we wait so long for AAA titles on iDevices.

    • Chernobyl

      Do everyone a favor and jump off a cliff you cheap piece of shit.

  • Brianlee382

    I am getting this one for sure. That's not too much $ for this good play. This is all most among Free Action Games

  • htp24

    Query, since I'm leery of IAP: if you delete the app and reinstall, how do you recover the IAP? Is there a code or key or some such? Hopefully not a DRM server or some nonsense like that...

    • Coops58

      You just login with the same iTunes account you bought it with the first time and redownload it. It will tell you that you already purchased it, and it won't make you pay for it more than once.

  • EastsideStompers

    All I know is, I'm enjoying this more than Aralon. Might even finish it...

    • Fuser

      Actually I am finding that too - I love Aralon, but this seems to get to the 'fun' part quicker and more directly...

      • EastsideStompers

        Agreed. The only thing bugging me is that it keeps asking me to sign into iTunes every so often for no reason?!

  • Lorddevien

    Damned! I cant buy the IAP.. I am allways getting a notification like "This Account is not supported for Sandbox Environment" Any Ideas?
    Google isn't helpfull..

    • Nick Nms

      @Lorddevien if your jailbroken IAP will not work under any circumstances. I'ts a negative side to Gameloft's new model, some people actually do jailbreak for the sole purpose to add more functionality to their device and not to pirate apps.

      • Lorddevien

        damned..
        but IAP works in any other app! I bought Gold in Infinity Blade yesterday to test it. Sacred Odyssey is the only app, where IAP don't work..

      • Jack

        That error is not caused by jailbreaking alone. It is caused by the app that allows you use cracked applications on your device. If you don't have that app, a jailbroken device will not cause any errors.

        You have just revealed yourself to be a thief. And an idiot.

      • Jack

        Wrong. Jailbreaking does not stop IAP. The app that allows you to use cracked apps on your device is what stops the IAP.

  • Anonymous

    Jack - He just said he was able to purchase gold in IB. Read > Post.

  • Anonymous

    Jack - He just said he was able to purchase gold in IB. Read > Post.

  • Jack

    "This Account is not supported for Sandbox Environment" = cracked app sync application installed.

    If he can buy gold in IB, it either doesn't make the same check, or he is lying.

  • Pear

    What an awesome idea. Make it impossible for someone with the cracked app sync to purchase your product forcing them to pirate it instead. What brain dead nitwit thought that one up?

  • TZ

    so annoyed that it doesn't work on my 2nd gen ipod touch, I feel like I'm getting phased out...

    • Overzero3

      was going to ask just that!
      I got a fucking 8gb "3G" iTouch...wich mean that is the old 2g piece of crab on a 3g package...felt cheated by Apple!
      Now it's not like i can just toss it on the garbage and get a new one...still, lots of apps that i am missing!

  • Pauly

    You ended your review echoing my own concerns with unlocking the full game via IAP only. There is no way to track whether the game goes on sale or not. Come to think of it, has there been any history of IAP ever going on sale? Is that something that developers can even adjust?

  • Lamar Taylor

    It is obvious that people want something for nothing. Here is a newsflash...people who create games or apps are doing so to make a profit.

    If I were to sit here and complain that airline prices to fly to Paris are too expensive, most people wouldn't care and would tell me to stay home if I can't afford the trip. Guess how I feel and game/app makers feel when folks complain about pricing....I think you get my point.

    Get a better job or create your own games if you can afford something in the App Store. I actually own a business so I can understand that IAP strategy.

  • Joel

    In game purchases were done to hamper piracy, not streamline the gameplay.

  • Anonnon

    Oh man this looks so generic and poor. I won't buy it, next!

  • Michael Fox

    Looks and plays fine, but holy frack, is this soulless or what!?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevenxonward Steven Gilmore

    I let my siblings log into my itunes account on their phones to download games I've already paid for. Will they be able to play the game on their phone if it wasn't ever paid for on that phone?

  • Hazhar84

    hi all i have been playing this game for a long time now im stuck on a level were u got into a room it says u have 9 wifes please light etc has any one cleared this if so please comment and tell me how thanks ???

    • Morrisjarrod

      I'm stuck on the nine wifes part as well, did you manage to solve it?? Would be heaps grateful for any help

  • Jxhenry1975

    How do you kill the acid bug

    • Lilred170

      To kill the beetle, through bombs at it and when it comes down use your sword to strike the yellow/orange part of it's body. It my regenerate, you can bomb it while it's doing that and then strike it. Just keep at it and it will eventually die.
      I need help with the ice demon please :)

  • Lilred.me

    i am trying to put together some walkthroughs for parts of the game people are struggling with. at play.lilred.me

  • Salscula

    Does any one now what to do with the blockes in the demon tower after openingball the doors with the light and mirrors

  • morrisjarrod

    I am dying to get my hands on a walkthrough for this game!! I can't get past lighting the nine torches - there's some riddle about the King of Lasgalen lighting the fire of devotion by going to her directly blah blah blah - can't for the life of me get past it.... Help me

  • Pmtaran

    I cant get past the northern hope quest where u have to light the dungeon with lights reflection. does anyone know how to complete this part of the game?

    • Jamesabullock

      At some point you have to aim up

    • Jamesabullock

      Email me at my username + @ yahoo

  • Anonymous

    This was one of my favorite games to play through. I really hope they have a sequel planned. And I agree with you, I prefer the free download + IAP over two separate games. Not sure why everyone threw a hissy fit over the IAP, forcing them to change it.
    And IMO, Gameloft can rip off any games they want as long asthey do a good job of it!

  • Anonymous

    Great review. This was one of my favorite games to play through. Challenging but not impossible. I agree about the IAP -- I rather have one app instead of two. Not sure why so many people threw a fit over that, forcing them to change it.

    I just hope they havea sequel planned.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5SZRMPZJNQQWZ4GF5AUWP3Q7EE Leah

    Hi.. Can you make a walkthrough for struggling players like me for this game. I dont know how to find and reach some objects and reflecting mirrors are so hard to connect.

Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden FREE Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4