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26 March, 2014

Archangel Review

In iOS action-RPGs such as Heroes Call, Undercroft and Iesabel, you will often be given a choice between virtual controls or touch controls – place a finger somewhere on the screen and your obedient avatar will go there. Archangel on the other hand, builds its whole game around the touchscreen and it is these controls that rescue it from being lost in the deluge of iOS Diablo-likes.

The story is a simple one. Beings of the demonic persuasion are building their forces and preparing to defy Heaven’s rule. You, playing as an Archangel, must rise from slumber, slip into something comfortable and mete out some righteous justice.

Level one will have you thinking you are in for a very standard hack ’n’ slash adventure, simply slicing and dicing your way to victory. But stick around until level two and the fun begins. You’ll receive an unlimited teleport ability that allows you to quickly double tap anywhere on screen and that’s where your character appears. On paper it sounds like a strange cheat mode, but when combined with the magic attack abilities you gradually unlock as you progress through the levels, all sorts of strategic options present themselves.

The magic attacks are unleashed by drawing different symbols on your screen - a line for a wall of fire, a “v” shape to freeze your enemies, an “r”shape for a meteor barrage and more. (Learn more about battle tactics in our essential tips guide.)

Black Tower Studios has done a great thing by not over explaining the abilities as you unlock them - they just give you the tools. The fun of finding out how they can work together is all yours. Stringing together combos of attacks that no one has spelled out for you leaves you feeling quite clever and is something I wish more games would do.

There are weapons and armour sets to unlock with the coins you earn from your demon slaying day job. Each outfit has four pieces to collect - weapon, armour, shield and an amulet, and once you’ve collected all four pieces of a set, you’ll get extra stats boosts as well. It’s a fun system and will have you scouring every corner of each level finding hidden demons to convert to cash. Coin packs can be bought as IAPs by the impatient and there are a couple of exclusive armour sets available for purchase as well.

A minor let down is that after twenty levels (there are thirty in total) the environments tend to blend into one another. Apart from some slight changes in colour schemes, the stone pathways floating in the sky will start to look like all the other stone pathways floating in the sky. Fortunately the quality combat outweighs the lack of diverse level design.

Also helping to keep things interesting are the occasional arena based levels. Wave after wave of enemies will spawn from portals around the area and your job is to kill and survive. These are a welcome change and a good chance to hone your combat skills.

The touch control ideas in Archangel are certainly not original, but making them the focus of the gameplay puts a fresh new spin on the action-RPG and delivers huge dividends for your small $1.99 investment.

Grab the game here.

Verdict: Archangel brings some fresh ideas to the well-worn action-RPG genre, enabling it to mark out some territory all of its own while remaining good fun. Black Tower Studios should be commended for taking a risk and trying something new.

    - Archangel
    - Heroes Call
    - Undercroft
    - Iesabel

For more in-depth reviews, be sure to check out our game discovery app.

Garry Balogh

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