Getting violent, brawler action on mobile can be incredibly tricky to get right, so it’s rare that you’ll even find developers attempt it.
Yet with Iron Blade: Medieval Legends, it seems like Gameloft have just about got it perfect – barring a few targeting and progression issues.
It’s a remarkably fun and challenging experience, with surprisingly deep combat and lovely graphics to take in, though its somewhat repetitive set-up can grow weary in a short amount of time.
Iron Blade largely revolves around you fighting an arena full of soldiers, hacking and slashing until they’re all dead and you move onto the next set of sword fodder.
Attacking is simple – just tap the right side of the screen to swing your sword, or swipe towards an enemy to change target and fire an arrow at them if they’re too far away for your blade.
Enemies will also make a move against you, but a swift tap of the left side of the screen when the incoming attack icon pops up will deal with any blows.
There’s also a handful of special attacks to use, which rotate as you use them, giving you an edge when you’re surrounded by guys who want you dead.
The only real issue is the targeting system – you have no control over the camera, and the only option to change target is to swipe in their direction.
This is fine in most instances, but if an enemy you want to hit is stood behind another foe, you simply can’t attack them unless they move closer to you.
Poor targeting can also foul up your ending score – to reach a three-star rank you need to beat the level in a short time, but this becomes nigh-on impossible if you keep swapping enemies.
This also isn’t helped by the levelling system, which leaves you with weak equipment a lot of the time, making it difficult to kill quickly.
Everything you take into battle scores some experience points for each piece of equipment, but levelling up this way is incredibly slow.
Instead you’ll need to grind out equipment from collecting chests or re-doing missions, half of which will be useless and need to be fused into existing equipment to make it better.
It’s pretty straightforward stuff, but it never seems to really help, leaving you stuck grinding endlessly before you can make even the slightest impact.
Overall, Iron Blade has a lot of good ideas – solid combat, great graphics, and plenty of violence to keep action fans happy – but it falls short on a few fronts.
Its targeting is serviceable but a little too flimsy, flinging you between enemies when you really just need to focus in on one, and levelling up just never seems to make an impact.
It’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the mood for a good hack-and-slash, but unless you’re willing to grind, you might not find much enjoyment here.