God Of Blades, the debut release from Texan studio White Whale, is an autorunner focused on fighting instead of jumping. Its short, swiftly scrolling levels are filled with deadly enemies to put to the sword, and you tackle them with a smart combination of up-strokes, down-strokes, lunges and parries. Different foes amount to different rhythms, and the game’s chunky yet quietly otherworldly physics allow for a healthy dash of experimentation as you send corpses pinwheeling through the sky where they might possibly inflict some damage on the next in line.
It’s a thrilling twist on the Canabalt format, but the mechanics are only half the story with this one. God Of Blades enhances its glorious alien bloodshed with lavish presentation that blends the pulp sensibilities of paperback fantasy novels with the bizarre visions found on prog rock album covers.
Cast as the Nameless King, your adventure will take your through dripping grottoes and scarred moonscapes, while armies clash in the distance and giants pick paths between huge outcrops of rock. Unlockable blades confer a suite of fantastical power-ups, too, from one that summons luminous flights of hectoring birds, to another that tugs hapless assailants into highly localised black holes.
Some of these blades can only be unlocked in libraries, a lovely Foursquare-powered locational gimmick that strikes at the peculiar heart of White Whale’s ambitions. As the studio name suggests, this is a game design team that’s in love with books, and so it’s amongst books that its first offering reveals its true potential.