In the still very early days of the App Store, back in the fall of 2009, Crescent Moon Games released a defining title for the mobile platform in Ravensword: The Fallen King. While it certainly had its flaws and rough edges, Ravensword showed that there was an appetite for an original Western-style open-world RPG on mobile. But while it offered an enjoyable adventure, Ravensword did lack in many of the RPG-like elements fans were looking for like character progression, multiple classes, and loot. Crescent Moon would address these desires about a year later with the release of another huge mobile-original RPG called Aralon: Sword and Shadow.
One of my favorite things about Aralon is how it came to be. It originally started as a project by two-person studio Galoobeth Games who spent years crafting an extremely robust RPG engine for mobile devices. The problem was that while they were fantastic coders, they weren’t all that great at art, and so early versions of Aralon looked something along the lines of an early N64 game. Basic textures, blocky character models, and stiff animations. The folks at Crescent Moon caught wind of the project and worked out a deal where they would give the game an “extreme RPG makeover" by completely redoing all the art and helping flesh it out to reach its full potential. The improvement was striking in these side-by-side before and after screenshots we posted prior to the game’s release, but it really hit home when we saw the before and after versions of the game’s trailer.
Like so many games of that era, Aralon slowly became out of date with the arrival of new iOS hardware and software. It had been in need of some loving for several years now, especially seeing as it is such a defining game in the history of mobile. Well that sounds like a job for the good folks at GameClub, and this week they reintroduced an updated and improved version of Aralon: Sword and Shadow to their catalog. Not only does it support the full screens of the latest iOS devices, but it appears the engineers at GameClub have performed some visual voodoo because I swear that the graphics are a good deal better than they were before. The game is super sharp now, the colors appear extra vibrant, and everything moves at a nice high framerate. Perhaps it’s because I just haven’t seen this game in quite a long time, but Aralon looks incredibly impressive for a nearly decade-old game.
Because it is such an old game, there’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said before. We’ve talked a lot about it in our hands-on preview prior to release as well as our full review from 2010, and Shaun revisted the game in-depth back in 2015 as part of the RPG Reload series. While mobile gaming has come a very long way in the time since, it’s almost more mind-blowing in retrospect thinking about what Aralon accomplished at the time it released, and it still stands up as an incredibly entertaining RPG even all these years later. As with other GameClub offerings, if you owned Aralon: Sword and Shadow previously you’ll be able to grab this new update whether you’re a GameClub subscriber or not. And if you didn’t own it before and don’t currently subscribe to GameClub you can still check out a limited version of Aralon for free to get a taste of this piece of mobile gaming history.