At the outset of Hiroaki Saito’s SphereKnight (out now, free) the odds seem unfairly stacked against the game’s titular hero. He’s been dispatched to the fallen kingdom of Lebralia on a mission to single-handedly wipe out an army of demonic monsters and stop their leader’s nefarious, cosmos-threatening plot. It’s a big undertaking for one dude to face alone, but the knight does have a secret weapon up his sleeve: the rather odd superpower of being able to contort his body into a ball and use it to take down enemies.

Set in arena-style rooms, SphereKnight’s battles are fast-paced affairs that task you with trying to rack up as many enemy kills as possible before a timer runs down to zero. The game’s controls are wonderfully unfussy and fluid. You simply swipe the screen to shunt your character around the arena, and swipe a little harder to trigger his dash attack. Each stage throws a mix of low-level and high-level enemies at you. The former can be destroyed by rolling into them, whereas the latter must be avoided. As you progress deeper into Lebralia’s cursed ruins, you encounter increasingly tougher foes, including mages who hurl fireballs, creatures that take multiple hits to kill, and a series of challenging bosses.

After each successful boss encounter, you’re sent back to SphereKnight’s title screen. While here, you can visit the shop to use the coins, gems and other materials you collect during gameplay to forge new weapons and enhance your character’s magic abilities. Slowly but surely building up the knight’s arsenal of swords and axes and mastering different types of dash attacks helps keep the game feeling fresh as you work your way through its 30+ level campaign. And if you’re still craving more roly-poly action once you’re done with the main game, there’s also an unlockable endless mode to enjoy.

In summation, SphereKnight is an all-round great game. The gameplay is uniquely fun, the controls are very slick, and the authentically retro-feeling sounds and visuals add a real sense of charm to the proceedings. The only downside to the game is that it features the occasional (non-intrusive) video ad — and these can be easily and permanently removed via in-app purchase.

Verdict

SphereKnight is an enjoyably challenging and authentically retro-feeling action RPG in which you play as a super-powered knight on a mission to save the cosmos. It comes highly recommended to genre fans and anyone who enjoys unique games.

Positives
Charming retro aesthetic
Fluid swipe controls
Unique and very enjoyable gameplay
Lots of levels plus an unlockable endless mode
Negatives
The occasional video ad
5
Exceptional
Download on the App Store