The definition of insanity, so the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The same could be said for ChAIR’s Infinity Blade series, both in terms of gameplay and in how the series does (or doesn’t) change with each iteration. Infinity Blade III (out now, 6.99) doesn’t do many things the original and its sequel didn’t already perfect, but you know what? I love it anyway. Call me crazy.
In Infinity Blade III you play as either Siris or Isa (depending on the location) as you work your way up to the mysterious Worker, a bad dude bent on destroying the world. On the way you’ll fight a number of his Deathless minions and other enemies ranging in size from dragons as big as space shuttles all the the way down to monsters and metal men that are merely house-sized. Combat is basically the same as in the first two games, with swipes, pokes, and virtual buttons controlling a deceptively simple array of offensive and defensive moves to string together. Other games have tried, but nothing feels quite the same as parrying, dodging, stabbing, and unleashing a barrage of frantic slashes to bring down a massive foe in an IB game.
While most of the battles do feel kind of samey after a while, that doesn’t stop them from being incredibly epic and fun. I had to play several of the levels many times to finally become strong enough to beat a particularly hard adversary here and there, and it was always a blast. A bit grindy, but a blast. Also, the meta game of cooking potions, fusing gems, remastering weapons at the blacksmith, leveling up different skills, switching out items for better ones, and so on (most of which takes place at The Hideout, your home base) helps to keep things feeling relatively fresh with every playthrough.
Speaking of playthroughs, once you “beat” the game (or the final boss, anyway) you get to start all over again from the very beginning with all of the things you acquired along the way, far more powerful and ready to kick ass all over again. I’m about halfway through my second run of the main game and I look forward to many more, slowly leveling up until my two warriors are strong enough to finally defeat that pesky dragon.
Oh yeah! There’s a dragon, by the way. He (she?) stops by from time to time, unexpectedly dropping in from the sky spraying fire every which way while you scramble to push the dodge button in time. I had no idea there would be dragons, and it scared the shiny gems out of me the first time it happened. What’s cool about it is that by the second or third time you are roasted alive, you finally figure out how to get a few hits off on the giant beast. The dragon’s healthbar is persistent and never resets, so the more you run into it (or, rather, it runs into you) the stronger you’ll be, and the more damage it’ll take. Eventually you’ll be able to slay the dragon for good, at which point I’m sure something neat happens. I’ll have to get back to you after I encounter it 40 or so more times. That should do the trick.
Also new to the series are Battle Chips (purchasable as IAP, of course) which allow you to buy maps, keys, and potion ingredients, along with speeding up timers. Yeah, there are timers this time around, but I didn’t find them too obnoxious — so far anyway. What does feel a little off is the amount of chips you earn in comparison to the amount of chips certain things cost. Maps and keys can cost upwards of 450 chips, and you might only make that amount in half of one playthrough. That being said, I more or less ignored the battle chips system entirely and still had a ton of fun. Plus, ClashMobs are returning eventually (along with a few other new modes) which will no doubt add even more opportunity to earn coins, chips, and all sorts of other goodies.
iFanzine Verdict: Infinity Blade III knows not to mess with a winning formula too much. This means it’s largely the same as the previous entries with a new coat of paint and a couple new mechanics to add some more depth, but that’s by no means a bad thing. The game is jaw-droppingly beautiful (even on my clunky old iPad 2), ridiculously deep, and fun enough to suck hours upon hours out of your week. Plus, with the promise of ClashMobs and other modes coming soon, the game is an easy recommend at any price. Welcome back, Infinity Blade. This just might be the best “endless” game on iOS.