Style over substance doesn’t always need to be a criticism. When the first Infinity Blade was released, back in 2010, it wasn’t the deepest game around. What it did have was an engaging and intuitive approach to touchscreen sword fighting, as well as sumptuous Unreal Engine visuals designed to give purchasers of the newly released iPad something to show off. The style was the substance, and it was a well deserved hit.
Was it a game that demanded sequels? Arguably not, but the industry must be fed. Where the first Infinity Blade dressed up short, punchy mobile gameplay in AAA graphics, with this third and apparently final entry in the trilogy, the game now resembles its AAA peers in more than just looks. It has inherited their bloat as well.
Combat remains largely unchanged. You march up to some hulking foe and do battle using a variety of dodges, blocks and parries to wear them down before unleashing your own flurry of blows in the few seconds before they regain their composure. It’s muscular, satisfying stuff, made all the more enjoyable for its immediacy. Swiping to meet an incoming blow results in a clanging parry, tapping the corners sends you ducking left or right. It just feels right, and once you’ve found the rhythm of each enemy these encounters are a cinematic joy, rightly forming the meat of the game.
Trouble is, this time around, you need to wade through a lot more mushy veg and gravy to get to that meat. As with any game where the core mechanics worked fine first time out, Infinity Blade 3 finds developer Chair piling on more stuff, filling in the margins with additional tasks, and generally elongating the experience by any means available.