With the recent announcement that Diablo would be making its way to consoles, gamers have been looking for something to satisfy their hack-and-slash needs on their iOS device. Gameloft recently released the fourth installment of their dungeon crawler, Dungeon Hunter 4, and less than two weeks after, Gamevil has come out with their first foray into dungeon crawlers with Dark Avenger (Free)
Dark Avenger is all action with little in the way of overall substance. As of this review, there is only one playable class, the Templar, with a second class “coming soon”, the Ranger. Despite having only one type of character at the moment, the game gives you three save game slots. You’re tasked with killing bad things from bad places because… well, it’s a game without a story. Perhaps because some evil convenience store clerk looked at your grandma the wrong way and now you’re exacting sweet revenge.
Delving into the game proper is as easy as choosing your character and selecting your mode. Single player consists of progressing through multiple levels, all within the same basic environment. The virtual joystick is dead simple to use; one joystick on your left controls movement and direction, while the icon on your right controls attacks. Tap it once for a basic attack, tap it up to three times for a combo attack.
The combo attack will come in handy, because you’ll be relentlessly assaulted on all sides. Luckily, your hero is capable of switching direction mid-attack, so those ghoulies sneaking up behind you while you’re already fighting? Just aim toward them and hack! Slash! They’re dead.
The game begins easy enough, pitting you against frail-looking skeletons and crawling torsos, but gradually increases in difficulty. As you slash your way through, you build up a rage bar that when full gives your attacks a glowing, flashy look that results in increased damage for a short period. Failure to continue attacking enemies will slowly deplete your rage bar, but unless you’re traversing to a diffrent area, you probably won’t have the chance to let it drain out.
Rounding out the usual hack-and-slash pieces are your ability to use health and magic potions. Throughout the game, you’ll also be able to unlock up to three special abilities that will decimate whatever is in front of you.
In your quest to fight for whatever reason it is you’re fighting (there isn’t much of a story to go with the game, in case that wasn’t clear), you’ll come across bosses who, obviously, will need a beatdown. The majority of these fights consists of you going after them repeatedly; there’s no real strategy per se.
Single player consists of two modes; normal and time attack. The only difference between the two is time attack gives you a limited amount of time to kill everything, while giving slightly better rewards (20% more xp, 10% more coins, etc.)
Multiplayer is where the game lives on, as if you only play single player you’ll be done with it in three or four hours, if that. There are two modes to this; Infinity Tower and Deathmatch.
Infinity Tower is basically a gauntlet. There are an infinite number of dungeons supplied with an infinite number of enemies, and you keep going until you finally succumb to death. There is a leaderboard that charts your score and stats, and compares you worldwide to other gamers.
Deathmatch pits you one-on-one against other players for rewards and fame. I’ve had difficulty playing this mode, as more often than not I’m greeted with an error saying it can’t connect to the server. I’m sure that, like most iOS games, this bug will be fixed in a future update.
If you’re looking for some like-minded players to fight with because, like me, you don’t always like random matchmaking, feel free to check out our forum and find some frenemies.
Dark Avenger has two IAPs; gold and gems. Gold can be accrued through the normal course of gameplay, by earning rewards in multiplayer and slaying enemies in single player. It is then used to purchase items, potions, skills and upgrades.
Gems are the premium currency, and are used to unlock the best items and equipment. Despite this, neither IAP makes you feel like it’s necessary to purchase something to win the game, and you’ll do just fine without by just grinding it out. Gamevil has also chosen not to harass you constantly to buy gold and gems, and in a straight playthrough of one hour I wasn’t asked once to buy anything, unless I had tapped on an item that I didn’t have enough currency for and was asked if I wanted to purchase more.
Despite the multiplayer options, Dark Avenger seems lifeless and relegated to a passing game as opposed to one you’ll find on your device a year from now, when you remark “oh right, so awesome, that’s why I still have it." There is no storyline, the graphics are far from eye-popping, and there is no substance. You have one goal and one goal only: get from A to B while killing everything in between.
Perhaps with updates, Gamevil will add more to Dark Avenger, and bring it up to a competitive level. It’s worthwhile to try because it’s different enough and free, but unless you’re playing on the subway or are bored at work and have nothing better to do, it won’t last you long.