232910_largerIt's a dream of many a gamer to have Diablo on the go. Unfortunately, Blizzard doesn't seem willing to accommodate those desires, but plenty of others have stepped up to the plate. The most successful series on iOS has probably been the Dungeon Hunter series of games, but it has taken a turn into freemium that hasn't sat well with many gamers. With not a stitch of IAP to be found, Iesabel [$0.99] hopes to be the panacea for that group, and for a first effort at this type of game from a relatively small developer, it's remarkably well done.

Upon starting the game, you'll have your choice of just two character classes: a male barbarian (who is seemingly voiced by the Cookie Monster) or a female witch. It's not a very big selection, though the classes are at least very distinct. This option turns out to be a secret difficulty choice as well, because let me tell you, the witch has a much easier time of things than the poor ol' barbarian does. As you'd expect, the barbarian is a beefy close-range fighter who can equip more powerful weapons and sturdy armor, while the witch is more of a long-range squishy who can use powerful magic to summon minions and rain a little death.

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After choosing your character, you'll wake up in a forest surrounded by dead bodies. You don't remember anything except that you need to talk to a fellow named The Shaman. The first section of the game is pretty linear, but after finishing a couple of quests, things open up a little more. Quests are pretty much what you would expect for this sort of game, mostly involving talking to someone who tells you to go here and murder that. Sometimes you'll be joined on your mission by AI allies, but more often than not, you'll be going it alone. That is, if you opt to go alone.

mzl.jfxuknpgIesabel supports online play up to eight players, and that is definitely the way to go for maximum fun. Multiplayer works well apart from a hiccup here or there, and it's a lot more fun (and practical) to take on the enemies with friends. Should you choose to play alone, though, you'll find the game is still a good bit of fun, but you'll have to play very carefully if you don't want to be overwhelmed by the enemy. They aren't especially intelligent, but they come in pretty deadly mixes and fairly large numbers at times. A brainless basher, this is not.

Your adventure will take you through a pretty good variety of large areas. Sometimes games in this genre feel more like an arena fighter, where you enter a wide open area, fight a bunch of guys who pop in, then move on to the next open area. Iesabel luckily avoids this, opting for more considered map designs with lots of twists, turns, and obstacles, which makes combat a lot more interesting. There are also a lot of treasures and hidden goodies tucked away in various crooks and crannies, which gives great incentive to take the scenic route rather than just making a beeline for the waypoint on the map.

Always a vital aspect of this kind of game, the loot you'll find certainly passes muster. Between the shops and enemy drops, you'll come across equipment with a wide variety of stats and effects. That delicious feeling when a piece of epic equipment drops is a staple of the genre, and they've done a pretty good job with it here. You'll almost certainly end up with more cool stuff than you can carry, which is unfortunately an issue at this point in the game's life.

mzl.ejoytosr-1See, for all the good stuff in Iesabel, this is unfortunately a very buggy game that feels, if not unfinished, then certainly unrefined. The game crashes a little more often than I'd like, there are a couple of game-stopping bugs (beware the graveyard), and the UI is really busy and a bit confusing, especially if you're playing on the smaller screen of the iPhone. The game's graphics, even at low settings, prove to be too much for lower-spec hardware like the iPhone 4, which I suppose is understandable at this stage. On any hardware, the load times are quite long, so long at times you'll wonder if the game has crashed (and sometimes it has), and thanks to the game's opaque auto-saving and complete lack of a manual save, it's far too easy to lose a lot of progress.

It also oddly refers to a touch-based control method, when the current version only allows for movement via a virtual stick. It should be noted that the developer has already delivered a very quick patch to address some issues, and seems to be on board with quickly updating the app to the best of its ability, but at this point in time, the game still feels very much like a beta.

Adding to that is the game's short length. You'll probably finish the game as it stands in under eight hours. Now, that's not terrible, but this type of game is usually more enjoyable the longer it goes, offering new challenges for your hero as they get more and more powerful. Iesabel's current content finishes rather abruptly. The good news is that the developer says they will be adding significant content to the app without any extra purchase, but in the here and now, you'll probably see most of what Iesabel has to see offer before your weekend's even up.

The game is very promising, though, and I feel confident the developer is going to see it through to its potential. What's here is great when it works, and it's a wonderful thing to buy an app and know you've got everything, lock, stock, and barrel these days. People in our forums are really enjoying the game, apart from the bugs, and if you need some hunting buddies, look no further. I hope a year from now we can all look at Iesabel as a landmark hack and loot title, but at the moment, it's a lot of promise with just enough delivery to make it worth your while and not an ounce more.

EDIT: The developers managed to get an expedited patch through Apple just prior to this review being posted that addresses many of the technical problems outlined in the review, including a critical issue in the graveyard. As such the rating has been adjusted to reflect that. Our apologies for the unfortunate timing of the post, which happens occasionally with the fluid nature of the App Store.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Eseres

    This game is pretty cool. And yes, the voice of the barbarian makes him sound like he is doing a "number 2" LOL! But other than that, this game is a great substitute for Diablo. Not much to complain about on this game so far. Its a real must try. And compared to Dungeon Hunter 1/2, this one is waaay cheaper too.

  • JRaynor

    First there is already a update that fixed the graveyard bug and some other things

    Now i have to agree that the games needs more polish specially in the UI since this is a pc game doesnt look that the devs put much effort in changing the UI to touch screens, some menus are really small for example the attack buttons are place to high in the screen and i'm pressing most of the times the run/walk toggle or even missing

    I'm playing on a 4s with the settings in medium and even on low there is a huge problem with the sounds (music,gfx etc) is always getting like cut-off like is you are listening to a radio station with a awfull signal if i'm not the only one this should be fix asap since it just breaks all the enjoyment at least for me

    Much of the rest of the games is well done from loot, gameplay etc but those two issiues imo it doesnt make it very enjoyable specially the sound problems since is always there

  • Amenbrother

    I have been playing this since release and the devs have used 2 quick expedited updates to fix everything and I mean everything that people complained about. Awesome Diablo type of game that I want to see succeed. Show some support guys, there is no IAP either!

  • Sean Yuan

    8 hours makes this the longest game of its kind on the AppStore, btw. I'm talking about premium Diablo-ish dungeon crawlers with an actual campaign (Orc, Dungeon Hunter series before freemium, etc). In any case, you can easily beat Diablo III in.. under 10 hours.

  • raviadso

    It gets points off for being 8 hours at $2? Eight hours of gameplay is standard for all adventure/action games in 360/ps3 for $60. I don't get it.

  • Greyskull

    I'll pick this one up soon; i fully expect it to be updated. This is the same dev/publisher who created one the truly unique and outstanding music games available on ios: Frederic: Resurrection of Music.

  • Forever Entertainment

    Thank you very much for the review of our game. I'm glad that you
    (mostly) liked it. Some of the issues you raised, like the graveyard,
    have already been addressed in update 1.03 (big thanks to Apple Revision
    Team for two expedited reviews in a row). At this moment Iesabel is
    around 8 hours of Single Player fun but we plan to add a new chapter in
    August, we already have of it 80% finished. Of course it will be added
    free of charge for current players. Ultimately Iesabel will have around
    25 hours of SP. Thanks again!

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

      Sorry about that, weekends are kind of a weird time as this review was edited and prepped prior to the update which came last night where I'm at. Added a note at the bottom of the review to address the update.

      • Forever Entertainment

        Thank you so much for adjusting the score to reflect the new update. 4 stars look sooo much better than 3,5. We really care about players and even thought Iesabel is not flawless from the start, we are working very hard to make it so.

      • Michal Komar

        What about optimalization? Game is almost unplayable on iPad 2 or Mini compared to the New iPad. Please optimize first and it will become superb.

      • Thonexxx

        I'm playing it on iPad 2 and it runs well on medium settings.

    • souojor

      Why not in Brazilian AppStore?? I want to play this game... :/

  • twistedmind87

    3.5? WTF

    • twistedmind87

      I bet if the devs had paid TA for advertising it would get 4.75/5! Ridiculous rating and there is a update out now that address some issues. What else rivals this? Dungeon hunter 4?! Ok Dungeon hunter 2 but most have completed that, and dungeon hunter 1 has been abandoned and no longer functions with sound.

  • Wizard_Mike

    Since there was an update yesterday, you probably should have postponed publishing this review, as some of the problems the review touched on were fixed in the update. Kind of silly for a professional review to ding a game for problems that have already been taken care of.

    I realize this review was probably written before the update went live, but the update went live before the review did. Maybe you weren't aware the update went live, and that's understandable. Even so, however, one would think a site reviewing a game would be just as informed about the goings on of the game in question than the players are.

    Sorry, I'm not meaning to sound crass. I just kind of irked me to see a review that was out of date before it was even published.

  • JustKarma

    This is one of the few times where I would say this game deserves a higher rating than given (in my opinion). The update for the graveyard area was very quickly fixed (though you can argue it should of been tested better and never been a problem, but it shows the devs are quick to sort problems out) but the main reason I believe it should be rated higher is because compared to other RPGs on the market, this one (for me atleast) feels a lot more fun and has had me playing a lot longer then most with more content to come.

  • lordyokomoto

    Enjoying this tremendously :) after the debacle of balders gate :( no mention of new classes Devs?? Although in background u can see shadows of others.... Only one crash so far on ipad2 this game is an absolute steal. ...

  • lordyokomoto

    Oh one more ... Witch is alot easier and moved alot faster than the barb

  • Wizard_Mike

    "The developers managed to get an expedited patch through Apple just prior to this review being posted"

    Just prior = an entire day? We're talking 24 hours here, not 2, lol.

    Why can't people just be honest and say "woops!"? You guys missed the update and published a review that was technically out of date. No big deal. But I find a simple "my bad" much more professional than damage control (ie deleting critical comments, even though they don't violate any rules, and trying to downplay not noticing an update for an entire day as "just prior").

    • Forever Entertainment

      Don't be so harsh. The review was accurate at the time. It takes lots of time to write a professional review like the editors of Touch Arcade provide. We managed to issue an update in the meantime but at the time of writing the bugs were still present. It's not like they created them from thin air. It's a thorough review and you can see that Shaun took lots of time to play the whole game, not just gave Iesabel a short
      glimpse like some of Touch Arcade competitors...

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

      As of yesterday afternoon when this review was prepped and scheduled the update was not out, no. I jumped in and made a small edit today prior to it being posted so yes there was a small window of opportunity of a few minutes where I could have noticed the new update, so for that "my bad." However, It was essentially ready to go as of yesterday morning and being the weekend and all it didn't occur to me there could be an update, especially since I had already gotten an update for this game like a couple of days ago. Fastest two updates for a game I think I've ever seen, actually. Normally there isn't even anyone around during the weekends, it's all just scheduled ahead of time and this review probably would have just stood as it was until Monday, but being that I happened to be online today I decided addressing it with the edit was the right thing to do.

      This is the sort of dull information I don't feel needs to be explained, hence it wasn't. I'm sorry there is no greater conspiracy here.

      • Wizard_Mike

        Yeah, I get that the review was written before the update. I even mentioned that I figured that was the case in my previous comment (which was deleted... why again?).

        I'm not trying to make up any conspiracy theories. I simply stated my opinion on a review which, at the time of its publishing, was based on an outdated version of the game. Then I stated my opinion on the follow-up, because let's be honest, the update was out the previous day, not "just prior to this review being posted."

        This is honestly the only game review site I visit. It's the best one, as far as I'm concerned, but I still have to comment on things as I see them. From the perspective of a reader, the review was a day late and a dollar short. I guess that sounds harsh, but as I said earlier, it's no big deal. You can't win 'em all.

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

        Your original comment was deleted because it was entirely based around the fact that the most recent update was not considered, but since the addition of the edit and talking with the author, your comment was irrelevant. Kind of like this entire conversation right now. I understand you know the review was written before the update, that was not what I responded about. The review was edited and scheduled before the update, and essentially TA was set to be on autopilot for the weekend. Had I not happened to be around I wouldn't have even added an update, and the review would have stood as it was until at least monday. That is the only point I was trying to make, as you were trying to play internet gotcha and infer that we are too stupid to have noticed an update for an entire day and then tried to cover it up somehow, when in fact it was just a slight oversight and a correction added.

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

        Oh and hopefully you get email notifcations for these or something because I'm deleting this entire off topic thread.

    • 61050

      this post was entirely unnecessary, but thanks for trying.

      • Wizard_Mike

        Right back at you. ;)

        You missed my original comment, which they deleted when they updated the review. So my second comment was not just in response to their review follow-up/update, but was also in response to them deleting a thread calling them out on publishing an out of date review.

        But hey, I guess I'm the jerk for stating the obvious. We all make mistakes, we're all human, etc. I'm about the most forgiving person you could ever meet, to be honest. But since when did it become wrong to point out mistakes and/or give negative feedback to professionals providing a service (referring to my original, deleted comment)?

        I have no ill will to T.A. In fact, I hold them in pretty high regard. That's why I expect better, I suppose.

  • Popsux

    For $2, this game is a steal! Amazing graphics, enjoyable game-play, and the most important thing: NO IAP! In my opinion, I would have paid $7-$10 for this game, easily! Totally worth it. As close to Diablo as you can get on iOS! Better than "dungeon (rippoff) hunter 3 & 4".
    I really enjoy this game. 5/5 stars from me. These devs do a good job on their games. And i'm entusiastic to see what other games they will create in the future!! Two thumbs up (3 if I had one more;)

  • memphis12

    Would you guys say this is better and has more depth than Dungeon Hunter 2?

    We need Path Of Exile on iPad NOW!!

    • memphis12

      Edit: just watched video and it actually has a look of Path Of Exile. This can only be good.

    • lordyokomoto

      Much better....

  • Morgan01

    This really is a worthwhile title. The game offering is really good for the price and no IAP surprises anywhere. While it did start a little rough, the developers have worked quickly to rectify issues that players were encountering that have already been corrected. they have also have stated further improvements are in the works.

  • pocketpcandgeek

    I play the game since few days ago and it's really interesting game even if i've Iesabel on my iPod Touch 5. I can to customs the size of the UI so it's correct to play. There are any problem with french language. The are "?" instead of accent. I little bit don't care about it because i play in english. But few of our readers don't like that. I really love to play this game when i've a lot of time to spend.

  • RunningWild

    Has anyone else had this title affect their device outside actually playing the game? Ever since installing the game, my 4S has been hanging. Anything from texting to page swipes. The screen hangs for anything from 3 to 10 seconds. I removed Iesebel and its back to normal. Strange. I'm on a non JB device with 1.8GB free..

  • awesomepwner

    Hello developer, i have made 28 lvl by witch and fond this problems:

    1) try to repair scrolls of homeport
    2) summoning is broken.. Have 10 lvl of Summons and sometime i can summon 3 summons, sometime 5....
    3) quest re broken - bring 10 plasmas, 10 totems...Dont show me the way and cant finish.
    4) autosaves - make a button of save pro make autosaving by gooing to another location or by quiting game.
    5) drop of game down.
    6) I finished act 1 and where to go now? It ll be update to conrinue to act 2 or??
    7) Why is not normal multiplayer and se have to host game or find game on?

    Ty for answers...awesomepwner1

    • memphis12

      Auto save is usually associated with this kind of game.

  • iOSPeace

    I played this game for like 10 minutes and I got bored instantly

  • Thonexxx

    How do you transfer equipment from one character to another?

  • jeSSie

    Well done!! Forever Entertainment S.A. This game is pretty cool, love it!! Just like diablo II and III, keep up the good work guy!! (y) Big fan of diablo here.. :)

  • replicanttheory

    Played through completely on an iPhone 5c. Did not experience any crashes or glitches what so ever. The game as a whole is completely enjoyable. There is a fairly decent story line throughout with a semi predictable plot line if you have played any diablo like game in the past. The best parts of the game are the crazy amount of loot dropped, visual character customization, great upgradable skill tree and complete lack of in app purchases. Great games like this are far and few between. Buy it, play it and enjoy it... But that is my opinion.

Iesabel Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 4