I usually try to stay on top of the various RPGs that come out from week to week, but every once in a while, something good slips past. Fortunately, the TouchArcade forums are pretty reliable about finding the things we happen to miss, and that's just how I came across Exiled Kingdoms [Free], a surprisingly excellent action-RPG in the vein of Diablo. While it's not the prettiest game around, it offers dozens of hours of killing monsters, looting dungeons, and gathering awesome gear. Just in case you need some convincing, the game even offers a substantial portion to play for free, with the rest unlocking for a one-time IAP.

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The game's setting is a harsh one, but your character has come into a bit of luck. A letter of inheritance has arrived, entitling you to riches if you bring it to a designated location. You set off with all your gear and gold in tow, but some unexpected surprises leave you in the position of having to pick up quests and help out people across the land, mostly by killing monsters, fetching items, or both. Well, there are worse fates. Right off the hop you get to make some choices about what kind of character you want to play. You can choose between a male and female character, select one of three different job classes, pour a few points into the stats and skills of your choice, and pick a portrait to represent you.

Depending on your job and available skills, you'll have access to a variety of options in combat. Warriors get a nice selection of weapon skills, rogues can lay traps and pull off other sneaky moves, and clerics can use magic. Most battles will be resolved simply by bashing the enemy into a pulp, though. It's all relatively easy to control, with a virtual pad for movement and virtual buttons for your attacks and skills. You can simply hold down the attack button to keep on swinging, and your character has a bit of common sense about what direction to aim in, so it's a pretty simple matter to beat up on any monsters that are weaker than you. The strong ones require some strategy, however. As do groups, which can overwhelm you pretty quickly.

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Though you only control a single character, you're able to recruit additional computer-controlled party members to round out your team. Some of them are mercenaries who tend to get chewed up pretty quickly, but you'll also find more permanent team members who will join for the long haul, growing and leveling up along with your main character. Having these extra party members helps a lot, so you'll want to seek them out as soon as you can. The mercenaries feel like a waste of money, to be honest, but they're totally optional.

Quests can be picked up directly from characters or through town halls. Exiled Kingdoms currently has more than 60 pre-built quests to solve, with more being added with nearly every update. There's a good variety here, too. Sure, many of them involve killing X monsters to get Y needed items, but there are also escort missions, gathering quests, scouting jobs, and more. There are also a number of randomly generated quests, so there's plenty to keep you playing if you've finished all of the standard quests. Unfortunately, Exiled Kingdoms appears to be a work in progress right now, so while you'll get quite a few hours out of what's here already, you can't actually resolve the main story yet. That's normally something that worries me, but this developer has proven that they're committed to regular updates with new content, so I'm sure we'll see things wrapped up in due time.

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While Exiled Kingdoms doesn't look bad, it does look very plain. Some of the animations are stiff, and while everything is detailed well enough, there's no real character to any of the visuals. The audio is equally workmanlike. The story and dialogues are enjoyable to read, at least, and there's quite a bit of the latter, so that's definitely a good thing. While the user interface isn't the prettiest, it gets the job done well enough most of the time. Switching between weapons can be a little ungainly, but there's only so much you do given screen real estate, I think. The game includes four different difficulty settings, with the highest one using iron man-style rules that mean your first death will be your last one. There are a whole ton of save slots, too, so you can freely experiment with character builds and difficulty settings to see which ones you like best. Just be careful, because you can't save while you're in a dungeon.

The initial download for Exiled Kingdoms includes fifteen areas, sixteen quests, and two of the three character classes. While you can't advance your character past level five, nothing in the free areas will require more than that. You're also not able to select the highest difficulty setting in the free version. Still, it's certainly enough to give you a feel for the game, and then some. If you're enjoying yourself, a single $3.99 IAP unlocks the rest of the game and features. You're also able to donate extra money to the developer through an additional IAP if you want.

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I was honestly caught off-guard at how much Exiled Kingdoms had to offer, and even how good it was all-around. In fact, I would say this game is one of the best single-player Diablo-like games on iOS. It looks and sounds a little rougher than some of its competition in that category, but where it counts, Exiled Kingdoms has got it. The essential gameplay is fun, developing your character is a ride that's hard to get off of, and the world and its atmosphere are well-developed. If you've got any love for action-RPG hack 'n slashers, you'll definitely want to give this one a go.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • brantov

    like always, amazing review Shaun.

  • http://wizodd.tumblr.com Wizard of Odyssey

    Neat. Is there iCloud save support? I like it when I can transfer progress in long games between phone and tablet.

    • brantov

      yep.

  • mabus51

    Cool, I'll give it a look. Wish Blizzard would release Diablo on mobile.

    • zergslayer69

      Even the much more simplistic Diablo 1 without any expansions would be greatly appreciated.

      • Dominic Aubin Jean

        you can actually play Diablo 1 with any psp since Diablo 1 came out on PS1 and all PS1 games run very smoothly on PSP...you dont even need an emulator lol

      • zergslayer69

        Well, mainly was referring to mobile as in phones/tablets. Although I know there's a psp emulator for ios though. But it's a bit wonky vs pc/android version.

  • Son of Anarchy

    Great game and a great review with a well deserved score.

  • atalkinghamsandwich

    My Game of the Year.

  • vapourtrail

    I play this every day for at least a couple hours for weeks now, maybe months. It gets really repetitive as all the hundreds(?) of quests are on the same 27 world maps essentially. I can't tell you how many quests I've done just in the tomb on the first map, at least 30. Tracking gets sticky at times on my iPod, cloud saves don't work, traveling the world is a chore. The tavern/rumours got fixed a bit in the latest patch which was a good fix. Don't get me wrong I do really like the game. But I was hoping new world maps and dungeons + quests would have been released by now as it gets a bit boring the grind of it. There seems to be room for another 50 world maps(?) So really what this is right now is half or even a third of the game. I do like it, but a 4.5 rating might be a bit high. If something like Magic Candle was ported to iOS, I'd probably rather play that other this even with its archaic graphics.

    • eksaint

      So you play it for hours a day for months and complain about the lack of content?
      5 stars for me. The most sucked in I've gotten in a game in awhile.

      • vapourtrail

        I like to finish/complete every RPG I play if it's worth playing after the initial hour yes. And this is, and I've completed every other classic-style RPG on iOS except this. I've clocked finishing well over 300 RPGs since the mid-80's. I would not rate it a 4.5 or even a 4 of RPGs. Above average, 3.5. Maybe a 4 for the limited amount of classic RPGs on iOS. Not sure if it'd make my top 20 RPGs all time on iOS though. Just being honest. Doesn't mean it's not good, for now it scratches the itch.

      • think before you type

        What are your top 5 or 10? Curious and may find a hidden gem. Last one I liked was Titan Quest

      • http://www.muzboz.com Murray Lorden

        I'd be keen to know your top 5 RPGs of all time on iOS! 🙂

        And even a top 5 RPGs of all time, on any platform!

      • brantov

        lol.

  • eksaint

    Also Shaun have you used the hot bar to switch between weapons? I have me melee/missle weapons in there as well as healing potions. Makes for pretty quick weapon switching

  • solistus

    Great review, although I really don't see the similarity to Diablo. It's much more similar to a D&D inspired CRPG. Itemization is not Diablo like, either in the types of items you find or how you find them. Combat is less hack-and-splashy than Diablo - as you as astutely pointed out, groups of enemies are a significant threat, whereas Diablo has you clearing entire screens packed with monsters without breaking a sweat. And of course, there's the fact that it's an open world game with a faction system, lots of side quests, etc., not a linear experience like Diablo. Like I said, great review overall, I just wouldn't want anyone to dive in expecting a linear, random loot focused ARPG. It's closer to an Infinity Engine title, with faster paced and less party focused combat (among other differences).

  • Jason

    Anyone else have a problem with saves? I'll save a game, confirm it's there, die, and can only reload games when I was level 1. I'm only level 2, so no big deal, but it's still annoying.

  • TouchMint

    Yea lets looks really good. Sold me!

  • Femi

    Shaun, I am so glad you picked this up, I am seriously enjoying it, especially because it was developed by an indie... or more like an indie family (brother & sister combo). This rushed back memories of Nintendo (NES) and Sega (Mega Drive). Makes me feel like a child again.

Exiled Kingdoms RPG Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 4.5