I don't think I give Chair enough credit. Not only did it make a good game in Infinity Blade [$5.99], but it also created an entire mobile game structure and set of mechanics that has caught fire with both developers and mobile game fans. There are good reasons, too: the instance-based conflicts, progression, repetition are perfectly bite-sized for mobile and tablet play and visuals, while the over-the-shoulder slide, tap, and swipe controls are undeniably touch intuitive.

This didn't hit me in a vacuum, by the way. I just spent a couple of hours with Uppercut Game's Epoch and describing the way Infinity Blade gets down is the easiest way to start a conversation about Epoch. Sure Epoch is cover-based shooter based in a broken-down sci-fi world populated by robots, but on a finer level it takes and adapts a lot of what made Infinity Blade so great and applies it to its own action model and structure.

The proof of what this does for Epoch is in its pudding: the game's top-notch visuals are allowed to look great all the time, while the core play consistently stays fun and intuitive. It doesn't hurt to mention that it has the breeziness to make it possible to play on-the-go, but I don't think many of us will be able to put it down as quickly as our loved ones would like.

Epoch is a "guided experience," meaning exploration is a no-no. Actually, you'll never be allowed to leave its bread-and-butter, the cover you'll need to sit behind to take out foes. That's because the entire game's action model, and the fun you can have, hinges solely around sliding, jumping, and shooting, and positioning around cover objects.

It sounds like a bummer on the surface, but Epoch doesn't suffer from this decision. Swiping to move from piece of cover to piece of cover is a fairly smooth and excitingly kinetic experience. You move fast with flair and there's some variety to it. Different enemies with different kinds of guns are constantly challenging your choice of barrier. Some enemies, for example, can shoot timed grenades, while others a steady stream that can clip through a barricade as if it didn't exist, forcing you to jump over the wide beam. It's really fun to play with the cover system, which is an unusual sentiment since guns are involved.

But while shooting takes a little bit of a back seat due to the more action-oriented style of the cover part of the equation, shoot you will. Epoch is seperated into insance-based fights, all of which are gated by kills. Swipe to move from cover, tap to target. Shooting is automatic once you target an enemy, but you never feel out of control. Your robot dude only shoots when you put it in a position to do so. If he's shooting like a moron, it's always because you are making stupid tactical approaches.

Speaking of robots, Epoch takes place in some bizarro future where machines may or may not have had an uprising of some sort. Every area I've seen in the game so far has been ultra-bombed out, while every robotic enemy has seemed to have been made purely to kill any opposition that swings its way. To be fair, the robot protagonist you play as seems to have been tuned in the same fashion, but your dude has a mission: find a princess -- at least, I think that's the mission.

The story-telling in particular in Epoch may not be the greatest thing ever, but I love the approach. Uppercut Game's isn't telling you much. Your robot doesn't talk and you're just exploring a world in which, obviously, something has gone horribly awry. To piece events together, the game dishes out optional diaries and messages from important people to the game world's civilization.

The lack of story cut-scenes keeps action clippy, and it's obvious that this is the kind of game that wants you to keep re-doing missions before going to the new ones. Your robot can upgrade its gun through an in-game store with credits earned after battle. There's also a basic level-up system and a host of upgradeable special moves you can deploy in battle, including armor, missile, and grenade abilities. These in particular are cool, as they operate as crowd-clearing mechanisms and factor into the overall strategy. And, as I've discovered, you get pretty wrapped up in upgrading everything you possibly can.

Epoch does enough via its weapon systems and cover-based action to make it play and feel like a different game. And that game part, taken outside of the structure, seems to be pretty good. There's a lot of Infinity Blade mixed into it, too. The controls, the game's focus on repetition for better loot, its entire presentation, and a lot of its systems are undoubtedly influenced directly by Chair's work. I'm not sure if this formula and structure are wearing on you yet, but if it's not, you'll probably want to check this one out when it launches. According to Uppercut, expect it soon.

  • Anonymous

    Not feeling this. We deal with the limited mobility in Infinity Blade but it's not preferred by gamers. Let me freely move around the gorgeous environment. The iPhone is far from a cripple. Innovate but do not limit iOS gamers.

    Also, stop using Gears of War as part of your sales pitch if you can't even deliver an equitable experience. No more BS, the iOS is capable of console quality gaming. Developers quit trying to make a quick buck and deliver real games.

    • Patrick Sullivan

      I'd rather they stopped using Gears of War as a sales pitch because it will never be the best game in it's genre and they should try to be more like something good.

  • http://twitter.com/joshyomygoshy josh nolan

    I second that.... Not buying some pretty background where the game shoots when its ready ... Limits mobility... So i am basically just watching it. Frankly i do not get the infinity blade hype... Pretty version of fruit ninja..... A screen saver can be cool to look at but how long do they hold attention...

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a lamer version of Shadowgun.  Not a fan of these types of shooters, conveniently places barricades to shoot behind seems lazy to me.  I'll leave now.

  • Adams Immersive

    Well, it’s not a traditional shooter... but then neither is Words With Friends, and I like that! I’m a big fan of traditional FPS games, but I’ll give other genres a fair chance too—and I won’t hold their good graphics against them.

  • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

    Really surprised by the hate here. I've been playing this game as well, and it's easily some of the most fun I've had on my iPad thus far. I actually didn't dig Infinity Blade all that much, but I'm really feeling Epoch. 

    In fact, I don't even think they really play all that similarly. Epoch feels more like a Time Crisis game, but instead of worrying about aiming and shooting you're just worrying about movement and cover. The fluidity and style in which your robot jumps, dives, and ducks is really remarkable. And you're doing all of that while in the midst of deciding who best to target and when, and what sort of weaponry to take them out with. It's like a bad ass robot shootout ballet that you're orchestrating with your single index finger. It's beautiful.

    People keep looking at games like this and Infinity Blade and calling them "limiting", or even worse, not "real" games (that is the most asinine comment, btw, I mean wtf is a "real" or "fake" game exactly?). But think about it - there are literally hundreds of normal third-person or first-person shooters out there, with full range of movement. Do we really need one more? Do you really want to keep playing the same game over and over again?

    If you do, that's fine, go have at it my friend. Personally, I've been there and done that, and I'd much rather a developer come up with an innovative way to play to a platform's strengths in order to deliver the most fun experience possible, rather than shoehorn a game type somewhere where it doesn't fit exactly right just for the sake of doing it.

    /soapbox

    • Anonymous

      I was in my bed, on my iPhone browsing toucharcade when I read your condescending reply. I got up, opened up my Macbook and I accidentally liked your post when I was trying to sign in, I was so agitated. There is not hate are you serious? "asinine comment" seriously? I understand you are in the pockets of developers now. They pay for advertising, your salary whatever. But you've taking it too far. 

      Let me explain limiting to you Jared Nelson. A developer who focuses on one gameplay mechanic for the entire game is limiting. A robot in a 3d world stuck behind a barricade is limiting. A Knight in a beautiful 3d world who can't explore it is limiting. The initial backlash for Infinity Blade stems from the release of Epic Citadel a few months earlier. Gamers felt limited since free roaming was absent from Infinity Blade.

      Actually, Infinity Blade is one of my favorite iPhone games. It's sword fighting game and to play it properly, you can't just dodge and block. You have to parry the enemy and anticipate where his attack is coming from. That's inovation that I appreciate. It's a real sword fighting game that's undermined when anyone compares it to Fruit Ninja. 

      Gamers are smart enough to know what games are. As much as people hate Gameloft and EA, they deliver fully flushed out games such as Modern Combat 3 and Dead Space. They have high production value and well worth the price. These and similar games are satisfying to me as a gamer. I put my headphones on while playing Dead Space and I was immersed and engaged.

      Where are the "hundreds" of first person shooters on iOS Jared? Sure consoles have lots but they are not all the same. Halo is not the same as Modern Warfare. Half Life 2 is not the same as Portal. Gears of War is not the same as Drakes Fortune. You take away something different emotionally from each game and we want that same experience on the iOS.

      The iPhone is not a cripple and it's capable of delivering that same experience. iOS needs its Mario and Sonic. I'm just tired of developers filling the app store with gimmick games to make a quick buck. We don't need more of that. We need more fully realized games that take advantage of hardware and ecosystem Apple has provided. 

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Lol. Let me just spell out what you are championing here:
        "If your game is not what I expect it to be, then it sucks"

        What is your reasoning for hating this developers game, because it isn't what you wish it was? Do you get pissed at Tetris because it isn't Mario? These guys didn't want to make an open world shooting game, they wanted to make a guided arcade experience. And they've done a damn good job of it.

        You don't want that? That's not a problem. Go play Shadowgun. Go play Modern Combat 3. Those games are awesome, and they'll give you what you're looking for. But don't act like they are doing you some sort of disservice because they aren't creating the game you wish they would. THEY are the developers, you are the one who either chooses to play or not to play their game. Pretty simple. If you choose not to play, then fine, move along. There are other games out there for you and plenty of people willing to try a game like Epoch.

        Please, feel free to elaborate on anything about this concept that you don't understand.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Oh I almost forgot. What is this "quick buck" talk about? Since when is working on a game for the better part of a year (or more?) just making a quick buck? Working tirelessly to get a game's mechanics "just right" (as they feel in Epoch) is some sort of cash grab? Explain that one too, while you're at it.

      • Anonymous

        Oh I get it, you're just f#cking with me right?

      • Anonymous

        "A robot in a 3d world stuck behind a barricade is limiting. A Knight in a beautiful 3d world who can't explore it is limiting."

        Might be limiting if you want to explore, but, why not play an RPG for that? Why does infinity blade, and Epoch HAVE to do everything YOU want from it. You say iPhone is no slouch and it could do all these things... If you could show me the apps you've produced in the App store that look like infinity blade and play like Aralon then that would be great. Otherwise, what are you basing your opinion on?

        Stringing together ridiculous numbers of parries in Infinity Blade is some of the most fun you can have on iOS, and not once have I thought, this would be better with a controller. which unfortunately I have thought in Dead Space, and Modern Combat 3, and Rage. It plays to the systems strengths. 

      • Anonymous

        As a gamer, do you want more Angry Birds for $.99 or more Final Fantasy for $15.99?

        I don't know why I got into it was a guy who likes kitty games. WTF was I thinking?

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        And how does either Angry Birds or Final Fantasy have anything at all to do with this game?

        It's funny, when people have absolutely no intelligent rebuttal to back up their reasoning they typically resort to lobbing baseless conspiratorial accusations. It's pretty much the digital equivalent of "I got nothing"

        Also, please don't buy this game. It's obviously not for you, and like I suggested earlier, there are other games that will suit your needs better. Leave this game for the people who are actually interested in it. Trust me, as important as you might think you are, nobody cares what games you choose to buy or not.

      • Anonymous

        Jared, you're right, I'm wrong. Have a great day and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

      • Erik H.

        Jared Nelson, your game is graphically advanced limited piece of sh*t! FACE IT!

      • Anonymous

        Neither, Angry birds requires no more clones, and I'm more a WRPG fan.

        But please, what does that have to do with the price of fish?

  • http://twitter.com/teh_tommy Tommy

    Wow, this looks and sounds amazing. I am looking forward to playing it.

  • matthew wood

    im hoping theres a reason the cover movement mechanic performs so slowly, the jump looks unnatural for something that will more than likely weigh more than 10 pounds. 

  • http://twitter.com/bencamenker Ben Camenker

    Looks like a really fun game. I just hope that the player gets access to a good variety of weapons to make things interesting - I mean beyond "upgrading" your initial weapon or obtaining screen-clearing "reset" bombs (a-la classic 'shmups).

    What I'm really looking for are weapons with different strengths and weaknesses that change your strategies and how you play, with perhaps different effects dependent on the enemy. 

  • Madison Gerritsen

    Wait. What? It's out? *runs to App Store*

  • http://twitter.com/robandstuff Rob McFadden

    I dunno, looks like a pretty fun distraction and something that could see new levels added pretty easily (rearranging existing set pieces and enemies) so could stay fun with updates over time. I'll likely pick up, pending a final review and decent pricing (<$5 for a universal version).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4OOX62YE7D4R62R6JI2NIOSUYY Trevor

    if i wanted to play time crisis. i would play time crisis. 

    • Patrick Sullivan

      Which would be relevant if this was like Time Crisis.

      • Calvin Chew

        Which is why it SHOULD have been a Time Crisis.

  • Anonymous

    looking forward to this. Seems perfect for iOS, don't have to worry about god awful tilt to aim controls. Its playing to the systems strengths. Will be an Instabuy.

    Is this iPad only? Or iPhone as well?