Alper Sarikaya — the same man whom previously brought us Manuganu 2 (our review) — is back once more, this time bringing with him a side scrolling — double jumping — sword slashing tale of adventure. In Sword of Xolan (out now, $0.99) you take control of a fur-wearing barbarian-esque hero that must save the many denizens whom were all abducted by the nefarious skull-headed Borzandar. Although there definitely are some key differences between the two apps, I’m just going to say this right now: this game — by and large — is uncannily similar to the recently released Goblin Sword (our review).
In order to complete your mission you’ll needed to successfully journey across thirty different trap-laden stages, each of which have three different villagers hidden deep within. These villagers will usually be located somewhere off the beaten path, with you often needing to jump through a seemingly solid wall in order to discover the secret places where Borzandar’s forces have stashed them. One thing in particular that I liked about this — admittedly optional — villager finding side quest is that all ninety of them are wholly unique in appearance, with one of them even being Manuganu himself.
Attempting to hinder your efforts to find these villagers will be a wide array of brutish fiends — sinister insect-like abominations — and foul beasts, but thankfully you already have the skills to deal with all of them. Your hero is fully equipped to jump — double-jump — and slash at a moment’s notice, and furthermore may optionally launch fiery blasts whenever he chances upon a magical potion just laying around. Lastly, I am happy to report that the controls for these various actions are all impeccably tight, which is a good thing too since Borzandar’s dark forces will quickly begin brining their A-Game.
As you smash your way through each of Borzandar’s minions — or whenever you find a lucrative treasure chest, of which there is one hidden within each stage — you’ll find the ground to be littered with shiny coins of varying denominations. You’ll seek to gather every last one of these, except for when doing so would put you at jeopardy, as collecting 1,500 of these enables you to purchase one of Sword of Xolan’s ten mysterious cards. Each of these cards will grant a permanent boon to your hero — such as extending how many fire blasts he gains upon grabbing a potion, or increasing the rate at which enemies drop health refills — yet you won’t know what a card contains until after purchasing it.
Anyone whom recently read our Goblin Sword review might — at this point — already realize why I said this game was so uncannily similar, but I’m going to break it down now just in case you haven’t. In Goblin Sword you play a hero that runs about jumping — and double jumping — through various stages containing three hidden crystals each, all of which are always off the beaten path and usually even located behind illusionary walls. There are additionally two hidden treasure chests found within each of Goblin Sword’s stages, most of which will produce a shower of gems — which are the game’s currency — whenever they’re opened (although Goblin Sword has gear to buy, rather than cards).
The controls — the level structures — and even the way boss fights are introduced all seem to be eerily similar, which certainly makes it seem as though Sword of Xolan deliberately took quite a few design cues from Eleftherios Christodoulatos’ amazing masterpiece. This isn’t to say that they’re absolute carbon copies of each other — however — as Sword of Xolan does feature a number of unique elements separating it from Goblin Sword, and I’m not just referring to the number of available treasure chests hidden within each level. For instance, whereas Goblin Sword loves to concoct some truly diabolical jumping challenges — especially during the game’s secret stages — Sword of Xolan is instead far more focused upon the dangers presented by Borzandar’s many malicious minions.
Perhaps the most significant of these differences — however — would have to be the radically different pixelated art goals that these two side scrolling Hack ’n Slash adventures are each aspiring to uphold, which may as well be night and day itself. Whereas Goblin Sword’s pixelated style was bright and cheerful — deliberately harkening back to both 16-bit games, as well as the stereotypical Japanese view of western fantasy tropes — Sword of Xolan instead has aimed for a grittier Sword ’n Sorcery themed motif. Although it has been argued that people should only value pure mechanical merits where video games are concerned, the extreme dichotomy of art styles presented here will definitely see people having strong opinions over which one they believe looks better.
Another difference is that — even if the game is otherwise ultimately shorter — Sword of Xolan has far more secret stages to unlock, with a whopping nine in total (versus Goblin Sword only having three). Furthermore — rather than being the ultra hard challenges that Goblin Sword contained, which nearly bordered on the level of being I Wanna Be The Guy style difficult — the secret stages found within Sword of Xolan are radically different. Here you’ll race against a timer to smash all of the hanging targets present — either by physically attacking them, or hitting with them with fiery blasts of magic — and afterwards be rewarded with a stockpile gold based upon how fast you were.
Although I personally self-preferred Goblin Sword more — due to its higher challenge level, staggering plethora of varied levels available, and its brightly colored 16-bit inspired retro graphics — I must admit that Sword of Xolan is also rather enjoyable as well. If you either prefer fantasy with a Sword ’n Sorcery motif — or perhaps have already finished Goblin Sword, and are now desperately seeking platforming action that’s nearly identical — then you’re absolutely guaranteed to be quite pleased with Sword of Xolan. Those — however — seeking a game about an awkwardly flying bird attempting to narrowly miss pipes for as long as possible probably accidentally clicked the wrong link, and are now wondering just what exactly they’ve been reading.
iFanzine Verdict: Sword of Xolan is a well-made platform jumping — sword swinging — secret hunting adventure for the iOS, that also happens to be extremely similar to the recently released Goblin Sword. Although both games are rather good — and you couldn’t really go wrong with either one of them — I personally preferred Goblin Sword slightly more than Alper Sarikaya’s Sword of Xolan. That said, for anyone whom has already played Goblin Sword — or for those whom prefer old school style Sword ’n Sorcery motifs — then Sword of Xolan is definitely the one you’re seeking.