Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a game called Infinity Blade ($5.99) about slicing people up with a sword, and another game called Temple Run (Free), about looting and running. After a hard day’s work hacking and sliding, they went out for drinks together and one thing let to another. Nine months later, a stork dropped dead out of the sky, and there, crushing the stork’s carcass beneath a heavy boot, was Infinite Warrior ($0.99).
We really got into stabbing some fools back before the official release of Infinite Warrior, and the release version dishes violent death just as gleefully as expected. Still, the question remains: is there more to Infinite Warrior than step, slash, repeat?
No, not really. Does there need to be?
The only things that are gratuitous and over-the-top about Infinite Warrior are its motion-captured swordplay and excessive bloodshed. Beneath that, everything is pared down and uncomplicated. Swipe the appropriate direction to kill a guy. Take too long or go the wrong way and it’s game over. Keep an eye out for treasure and passing crows. If you want, you can equip some stuff first. Don’t worry about the casualties: the game’s intro makes it clear that you’re the good guy.
The game is almost self-parodic in its intensity and singleminded focus on aesthetic violence – I haven’t seen anything quite like it since Vividcon 2007. Need to work off some frustration over your boss/clients/whatever? Infinite Warrior has just the sucking gut wound you’re looking for.
Sure, it has flaws. The game still occasionally misses swipes, especially on the small screen, so you’ll be looking for that rising orb of blood and, if it’s not there, swiping again furiously. There’s also the fact that the connection between the direction you swipe and what your buff avatar does is basically arbitrary, lacking the strong sense of connection that characterize both of its “parents" Infinity Blade and Temple Run. The equipment system feels off: expect for body armor, all equipment is one-use, and you have to go back to the main menu to equip another sword or helm. If you do the natural thing and “replay", you go in with the basic sword, shield, and hood.
The equipment system, at least, is likely to change. Empty Flask has been actively seeking input and announcing forthcoming additions to the game. Better death animations are coming, and the rest of the equipment may move to a “permanent" basis, like the armor. More things to stab are also in the works. There’s even the possibility of a major revision to gameplay that would tighten the connection between swipe direction and action.
As long as that revision doesn’t break the game’s basic simplicity, it could be just the nudge this game needs to maintain the interest it’s generated. That and boss fights with manticores. Infinite Warrior isn’t subtle or deep, it’s a game about being being being badass and making it look easy… and a little campy.