In our review of Bloodstroke earlier this week, I mentioned that the game left a solid first impression, one that unfortunately crumbled after an extended play time. Mass Creation’s Draw Slasher (out now, $2.99) had the exact opposite effect on me. I was not a fan of the game mechanics in the first few levels, nor was I impressed with the cornucopia of clichéd characters (monkeys, ninjas, pirates, AND zombies? Seriously?). I prepared myself for a long and painful slog through the story mode, and somehow came out the other side a pretty big fan. What happened?
Backing up a bit, Draw Slasher is a game where you… well, draw to slash. You play as a little ninja dude named Hanzo who is trying to rescue his kidnapped family. Along the way you’ll encounter a hoard of undead zombie monkey pirates (sigh) bent on killing you. Luckily, you’ve got that slashing ability.
To slice up an enemy, all you have to do is quickly draw a line through them. Some enemies require more than one slash to defeat, or they need to be slashed in a specific area of the body, but the central mechanic remains the same: slash drawin’. Slashing can also be used to move Hanzo quickly into the air or over and behind obstacles, depending on what the situation calls for. Rounding out the controls are a simple tap-to-walk mechanic, if you’d rather position Hanzo without leaving the ground.
One of the problems I had with the controls in the first few levels was with the screen automatically scrolling based on where Hanzo is. I didn’t quite have the slashing down yet, and as a result I was often disoriented in the heat of combat. I also had a hard time getting used to the fact that Hanzo starts his slashing where you start your drawing, which seems incredibly obvious but for some reason took some getting used to. I wasn’t beginning my slash lines where Hanzor was, so the poor guy was constantly running around the screen to keep up with my finger, and taking heavy damage in the process.
The other main problem I had was the fact that the lines you draw in the beginning are very short, which significantly limits your slicing. In these earlier stages it almost feels like a glorified game of Whack-a-Mole: see an enemy, slice. See another enemy, slice. I was simultaneously bored and a little annoyed.
Luckily, the game has a lot of character, with a pretty sweet comic book art style and surprisingly good voice acting, so I stuck with it. I’m glad I did, too, because the more I played, the more fun I began to have.
In large part this is thanks to the simple upgrade system, which mainly allows you to strengthen your health bar and make your slash lines longer. That last one is the key. With longer slashes you can draw zig zags over enemies that require more than one hit, and loops around other foes that can only be injured in the back. Suddenly the combat opened up significantly, and as I began to get a better handle on fluidly moving Hanzo around the screen while taking out large groups of enemies, the game started to make a great deal more sense. Now I could see the Matrix, and I was unstoppable.
Once you finish the story mode there is also a challenge mode (which is indeed very challenging) and an arcade mode that sees you fighting waves of enemies as long as you can. Overall it’s a great package, and I’m glad I stuck with it until the end. Don’t pass this up if it seems too simple in the beginning like I almost did — it’s a great evolution of the iOS slice ’em up genre.
iFanzine Verdict: Mass Creation’s Draw Slasher didn’t grab me right away, but when it eventually did sink its hooks in, I was in love. The art and voice acting are fun, and the central slicing mechanic is a blast — once you get a few upgrades under you belt, anyway. It’s well worth the three dollar asking price, and I hope to see Hanzo in future iOS adventures soon.