Spellsword (iOS) review: Holding all the cards

Game Info
Platform iOS
Publisher Everplay Interactive
Developer Steven Böger
Release Date Apr 26, 2012

Spellsword takes inspiration from some great titles, but can it stand on its own?

The team that made Super Crate Box, Vlambeer, has already been on the business end of an unfortunate cloning situation. Upon seeing the Spellsword trailer for the first time, I was worried it was going to happen again. But, while Spellsword does seem to draw inspiration from Super Crate Box, I was throughly pleased to discover that this new game goes in an entirely new direction, creating an engaging blend of arena-based combat, RPG elements and a retro flair that feels refreshingly chaotic.

The core gameplay of Spellsword has you commanding a 16-bit knight, battling never-ending hordes of enemies with a puny sword. In order to get an edge on your increasingly-numerous foes, you'll have to jump around a 2D arena, collecting elemental cards. Collect one and a element-specific magical burst, like a swath of homing fireballs, will aid you for a few seconds. Picking up one card causes another to appear somewhere else in the arena, so the basic flow has you jumping from one card to the next, just trying to keep your enemies in check.

Unlike Super Crate Box, which requires careful and strategic use of a given weapon, Spellsword is more chaotic. The screen often fills from edge to edge with elemental effects, enemy corpses, and rupees. Those rupees can be spent on character upgrades, increasing the effectiveness of your elemental cards, or on equipment (hats!), which grant passive upgrades like more health.

There are 20 challenges for each of the three starting arenas that come with the game. These challenges range from "Stay alive in a swarm of bees for at least 30 seconds" to "Collect 50 cards in a single game." Completing a challenge nets you a cash bonus and occasionally an item. There's also Endless mode, where you need only survive for as long as you can, but for those who prefer more objective-driven gameplay, the included campaign is a welcome addition.

Spellsword's controls lack the precision you'd get with a controller, but they're adequate. They didn't unduly screw me over with any frequency. The main character's animations were more of a concern, and could've used an extra pass or three. Your avatar often looks stiff and awkward, especially when compared with the rest of the game's rather charming visual style.

Wrap Up:


At a buck, Spellsword is a steal, ideal for hack-and-slash RPG fans and high score addicts.The team behind Spellsword might have started with Super Crate Box as their inspiration, but thankfully, they knew when to split off and do their own thing. They've created a game with an entirely different look, feel and play from their influences.

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