iPhone App Video Review: Infinity Blade III

by Andrew Koziara

The Infinity Blade series has become one of the most iconic iOS 'mascot' games out there, and for good reason. It's a highly polished, innovative fighting game that is constantly imitated but never duplicated. And I mean that, clichés aside. Every other swipe combat game fails to feels as fluid and functional as the one brought forth by Chair. With iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S comes Infinity Blade III, and the series is anything but stale at this point, with more variety and polish than ever.

The first game was a lovely little experiment of a game, pushing graphics and introducing a unique new fighting game style. Since then, the graphics have skyrocketed to ridiculous heights along with the processing capabilities of new iDevices. What's also grown is the story. While it all honestly feels like a massive ret-con to the first game's lineage plotline to turn the series into a sprawling epic, it's all starting to work. With the store development of the last game plus two short novels, we're getting pretty invested in this over the top, admittedly cheesy yet epic story.

I'm playing this game on old hardware, but even on the iPhone 4 it works well. Booting up the game takes about a decade, but there was only brief occasional lag in the combat, and my device only crashed once. Despite the old hardware, the visuals pretty much pushed my iPhone 4 to its maximum, though they more or less look like a shinier Infinity Blade II. Still, even on the minimum compatible phone, this game plays great, and it's mind blowing on the latest tech.

The tutorial mission starts things off with a seriously cool surprise that had me giddy. From then on you see just how much the series has grown. While the second game was about introducing more story and fleshing out the combat, this game seems all about scope and scale. Instead of one castle with branching paths to storm, you now have an entire world map full of exotic environments and lavish locales. The enemy variety, at least visually, has increased drastically, and best of all, kind of like Skyrim, you can randomly be attacked by a dragon. After you immediately get killed by it the first time because you were too distracted to hit the dodge button, you'll constantly whittle away it's single health bar over the course of the whole game.

Siris is back with the same combat styles as before, but the new playable character Isa brings a lot to the table. She's more or less a more agile, rouge type clone of Siris in weapons and combat styles, but she's just different enough to keep you on your toes. As before, you level up your characters by unlocking and buying new weapons and equipment, filling their experience bars. Once an item is full, you can no longer gain character experience from it, which forces you to try new things out, which I always loved about the series.

The gems have come back from previous games. One great new addition is crafting. As you unlock the appropriate NPC's throughout the story, you'll get to brew your own potions, upgrade and reforge old weapons, and fuse gems. These are all done with a timer mechanic, but the timers are never too long, and it's not like you ever feel like you really need a new potion. It smells of freemium tomfoolery, but by not interfering with the actual game at all, it's actually a great addition. You can also buy items at a discount from the traveling merchant, though she mostly exists to tease you with knee-slappingly hilariously expensive items you hope to afford before your hair turns gray.

Clashmobs also return as one-off missions that pop up on the main map of the game, seamlessly integrating into the new formula. But the story is a huge focus here. I've put several hours into my game and barely scratched the surface. While we all scoff at the notion that this is the last Infinity Blade game, it is the epic conclusion to a trilogy that started out small and simple, but somehow manage to reach great new heights. Infinity Blade III is iOS Universal and available for seven dollars at the time of this review, and it's truly great, with dozens of hours of content.