“It’s not a fully fledged RPG, but this action-based adventure is a delight to dip into.”£1.99
There’s no shortage of RPGs on iOS platforms but the vast majority are big sprawling affairs that, while great fun for the fans, might put off gamers of a more casual bent. Mage Gauntlet is a curious game in the way that it’s broken down into small bite-sized levels – unlike most RPGs that tend to feature one massive world the player has to diligently explore – so you’re never far from a bit of short-term satisfaction or a boss encounter.
In fact, the structure of it bears a passing resemblance to Capcom’s classic Mega Man games in that you work through each area of the map, travel through two or three small levels and fight a boss, and that pattern is repeated until you reach the end of the game.
Like the classic Super NES games that it draws inspiration from – The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana to name but two – Mage Gauntlet has a fairly predictable plot. An evil demon who was mucking about with the world is defeated by a great wizard called Whitebeard and imprisoned in the Dark Realm. Years later, a girl called Lexi, who is cursed with an affliction that causes anything magical to explode when she touches it, goes to see Whitebeard and he helps her bring her terrible gift under control and teaches her in the ways of magic. When it becomes apparent that Hurgoth’s minions are beginning to invade the world once more, Lexi is sent out to help tackle the problem.
Because of the level structure used in Mage Gauntlet, there are no large maps to wander around talking to townsfolk. Neither are there any puzzles as such. Instead you enter a region of the map – the orc forest, say – and then proceed to find a route through the various maze-like paths, occasionally picking up energy, spells and treasures. In addition, you frequently encounter bad guys who you have to dispatch wither with a few nifty sword swipes or by deploying any collected spells. The combat is very simple but although it can get a little repetitive over the course of the adventure’s 42 levels, if you just play by dipping in and out for short sessions it’s immensely enjoyable. Even more so thanks to the presence at the end of each region of a fearsome boss character, and defeating them invariably requires lots of hacking, evasive manoeuvres and carefully deployed spells.
What makes things even more interesting is the fact that different objects, weapons and modifiers can be equipped at different times, so if you’re struggling with an enemy, you can tailor your inventory to improve your chances of victory and carry objects that increase the frequency with which certain spells appear.
It’s all done with wonderful enthusiasm, the simplified, yet challenging gameplay works exceptionally well on iOS devices, and everything is imbued with a wry sense of humour.
In short, it’s an RPG that anyone – fans, old gamers, youngsters and newcomers alike – can enjoy.