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Pocket RPG is the latest app developed by Crescent Moon Games, the same people that brought us Aralon: Sword and Shadow as well as Gears. This time we've been given a dual-stick dungeon crawler exclusively for the iPad, and it is loads of fun.
When starting the game you choose one of three heroes to play as: A Ranger, a Sword Master, or a Battle Mage. Each class plays very differently, so make sure to test drive all of them. The gameplay is your usual dual stick combat. Move with the left stick, aim or attack with the right stick/button. You go into a quest and face off against hordes of enemies, rapidly leveling and acquiring tons of new loot as you go. The environment is littered with stuff for you to smash. Whether it's a tree, box, or a candlestick, for some reason money is hidden in just about everything in the world. It's just the darndest thing. This of course turns your heroes into psychotic vandals. They're also very violent in general. You can talk to NPC's by tapping on them, or by smashing them in the face; your choice. Honestly, the best way I can describe Pocket RPG is as an action version of the hit indie dungeon crawler, Torchlight. This isn't a conventional dungeon crawler though.
Every quest starts you off back at square one without any of your gear. This was a bold move on the parts of the designers. The only things that remain constant are your gold and your unlocked skills. Even if you die in the middle of a level, all of it stays with you. This doesn't keep the game from being fun though. Not for me at least. It doesn't take long to get some sweet gear, and practicing your new attacks and abilities is a lot of fun. You unlock different skills, buffs, and even armor by using your ability points, and you can master certain types of weaponry with your money. The quests themselves are broken down into sections. This brings me to my first major complaint. The load times in this game are just appalling, especially for an iPad game. You are rated after each section by how long it took you and the percentages of enemies you killed, as well as the loot you collected. Eventually you'll reach the big boss and the end of the quest, saving your progress.
At first glance this looks like a shallow action title, but there is a lot more to this ice berg of a game underneath the surface. It's really quite tactical, and it's more about utilizing your environment and waiting for the right window to strike rather than just spamming attacks. The boss fights are especially challenging, and will spank you silly if you go in guns blazing. One huge problem I had with the game was the crashing. It crashed on me several times in two hours, so that I couldn't even get past the second quest with any of the three characters. This almost ruined the whole experience for me.
All in all, this is a great title. It takes tons of mechanics famous for creating addicting games, and it knows exactly what to do with them, all the way down to the slow motion action shot you get when you level up. I love the art style reminiscent of Warcraft III, and the music can be both epic and atmospheric. I applaud the developers for trying to do things a little bit differently with this one. This is a five dollar app, currently on sale for only three dollars in celebration of the launch. So pick this one up quick.