The traditional RPG isn’t quite the force it once was: developers continue to marry the obvious pull of the genre's underlying systems to more immediately gratifying play mechanics, thus offering the satisfaction of progression without the grind. Spellsword, Everplay’s alluring mix of single-screen twitch action and weapon levelling, owes as much to Super Crate Box as Final Fantasy and its ilk, and that it’s slightly looser than Vlambeer’s game matters little when its irresistible momentum so easily sweeps you up.
So it’s missions, rather than quests: fast-paced, occasionally timed arcade challenges in which you’re tasked with defeating a given number of enemies, surviving several waves, or picking up spell cards. The latter temporarily imbue your sword with elemental powers, though simply collecting them is often enough to clear the screen, as fire, light and ice projectiles immediately scatter outwards from the point of impact.
If Spellsword’s enemies are disappointingly generic, there’s a tactile joy in dispatching them: slimes and bats explode messily as blasts of wind launch them into walls, and it’s possible to enjoy a brief game of swingball with the laser-shooting eyes that dangle elastically from the ceiling. The touch controls are responsive, though a swipe-based alternate setup struggles to cope with the stern demands of the later stages. Rupees earned from completed missions can be spent on increasing the power and duration of each spell; meanwhile, every stat-boosting helmet, amulet and ring unlocked offers one more reason to keep playing one of the most fiercely engaging iOS titles of recent times.
Tested on 4th gen iPod touch