Tag Archives: Ravensword: The Fallen King

November 2009 Game of the Month: Rogue Planet!

Amidst all the major gaming publications penning their game of the year lists, we’re gathering once again this time for our sophomore effort at deciding the best game of last month.  It was a difficult decision to choose a single game as the best, especially with two games being in such a tight competition to be crowned.

I’m pleased to let everyone know that we have decided to award Rogue Planet as our favourite game of the month for November 2009!  Agharta Studio was no doubt hard at work on Rogue Planet for a very long time, as we talked to them in an interview last April where they explained that they put aside development of 1112 Episode 02 to focus on Rogue Planet.  The wait has been worth it, and we think it’s the best game you can play from the month of November.

Read on to find out our thoughts about Rogue Planet, and see which other games we enjoyed playing during this busy month of November.  There’s no doubt among us that they’ll be keeping us busy for future months as well.

rogueplanet2

Matt: Every so often, an iPhone developer rises up from the slush of the App Store, grabs hold of the bar and pushes it skyward. Developer Agharta Studio is the latest to raise the bar for iPhone gaming with its November release Rogue Planet. Rogue Planet is not just an excellent iPhone game; it’s an excellent GAME. Period. Rogue Planet is a game so well realized, so well constructed and so enjoyable to play, it could easily hold its own against large production Nintendo games such as Fire Emblem or Advance Wars. Rogue Planet stands as a reminder of what iPhone gaming could be if more developers would invest the necessary time and effort into their projects to make them great. If there remains one rough edge in the game, I’ve yet to find it. Rogue Planet is one of the most complete and highest quality releases in the App Store. And at a time when many developers are attempting to fleece consumers with DLC, Rogue Planet comes fully featured and with a lengthy campaign at only $4.99. Rogue Planet is a must-have game, a shoe-in for Game of the Month and, moreover, one of the year’s best titles. Don’t miss it.

rogueplanet3

Daniel: Turn-based strategy games have started to rise once Mecho Wars was released for the iPhone, hailed as Advance Wars on their mobile device. Since then, turn-based strategy games seem to have died out, with only Reign of Swords II being a notable release, which was then in turn crippled by difficulty and unimproved graphics. This “losing streak” has finally been broken though, and Rogue Planet has manage to accomplish this mighty feat. Rogue Planet features some of the deepest strategies I have ever come across, with hundreds of different units and tons of potential content. This game sucks you in on the get go, and from the beginning, you can’t stray away. This immersive experience is what we need on the iPhone, and Agharta Studios alongside Gameloft has managed to do just that.

Honorable Mentions:

Chris: For me, Ravensword: The Fallen King is the first game for the iPhone I find difficult to put down. Yes, the game is short, and the story doesn’t wander too far from standard RPG fair. However, the visual and auditory ambiance creates a world that sets itself apart from most anything else in the app store. In short, the game does two things: it exceeds my expectations given by the confines of the platform, and it leaves me wanting more; that is the sign of a truly great gaming experience. As for Rogue Planet, I give Gameloft a lot of respect. The game’s look is impressive, but, for me, the turn-based strategy genre seems to to fall flat when it comes to a video game platform. I find most games of this type come across as one of those overly produced board games geeks like me tend to avoid at comic book conventions. There’s rarely a new idea in turn-based strategy, but when I do take a chance on it, I find myself clinging to the classics like Chinese Go, Chess, Hnefatafl, or the more recent Siege Stones. Why some savvy developer hasn’t chosen to port these latter games to a virtual platform is beyond me. It seems like the simplest of ideas can sometimes come with a whole lot more possibility than even the most complex turn-based video game. I guess that’s why the classics continue to stand the test of time. That being said, Ravensword won’t stand the test of time either; within a year (or maybe even a few months) there will be something better but not this month… not for me anyway.
Note: if you like Chinese Go, there is a great app called SmartGo you should definitely check out!

Ravensword1

Jeff: It was thought that the iPhone and iPod Touch would never be able to surpass handheld consoles in terms of content, quality, polish, and graphics. Until now. Ravensword attempts to create such a console-quality RPG experience on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and surprisingly, for the most part it succeeds. The open world atmosphere coupled with the amazing graphics really do make me think of things I’d be playing on my PSP and PS2.  That in itself is an achievement for an app store game. Though the main storyline is a bit short, I love walking around the areas just killing anything and everything I see. It’s rare that a game for the iPhone and iPod Touch can impress me and have me playing for a long time, but this one is a definite exception and exceeds all the expectations I had. Rogue Planet is a close runner-up, but I felt that it got a little bit too repetitive in the later levels, which is why I didn’t vote for it.

That’s it for this month!  Congratulations again to Agharta Studio, Gameloft, and Rogue Planet.  We’ll be bringing you our favourite pick from December once the month inevitably winds down to an end.  Also, as a special treat, we’ll reflect on all the releases from the past year and bring forward what we think were the best games of 2009.

Ravensword: The Fallen King Review: iPhone’s New Ruler

The RPG has had quite a good showing on the iPhone as of late. Gameloft’s solid Diablo-esque Dungeon Hunter has lead the genre in app store sales since its release in September while older dungeon crawlers like Underworlds and Zenonia and are still enjoying heathy revenues. These successes prove that well crafted RPGs are a much desired commodity for the adventuring iPhone gamer. So when Chillingo and Crescent Moon Games released screenshots of an upcoming open world RPG a few months ago, RPG fans like myself went into geek mode. After a few delays, the wait is now over.

The much-hyped Ravensword: The Fallen King seems poised to take the app store by storm. Unlike most of the RPGs available in the app store, this game boasts a fully rendered 3-D environment in the vein of the Elder Scrolls series. Although the story is shorter than a console equivalent, the experience doesn’t feel small. Players take on the role of a critically wounded mystery man who is brought back from the brink of death by some friendly villagers. Amnesic, penniless, and unarmed, players must build up this character as he slowly discovers the source of the evil that is taking over the land. While the game could use some tweaking, it does deliver an experience that far exceeds anything else available on the iPhone.

Likes

Visuals: The graphics are certainly some of the best to come the iPhone’s way thus far. Beautifully rendered forests and towns have more detail then one would first expect. The scenery is simply gorgeous, landing closer to Oblivion than Morrowind. Also, the team at Crescent Moon Games was smart enough to include an on/off switch for shadows and foliage; this allows gamers with older phones to join in on the fun. Any iPhone as old as version 2.1.1 can play the game.

Open World: One the biggest advancements in the RPG genre over the last few years is the developers’ decision to allow players to get lost in a series of forests, towns, and mountainsides without so much a care in the world. These wanderings sometimes lead to sidetrack adventures or mini-quests that ultimately don’t have any bearing on the overall story, but having the ability to freely roam a virtual environment in search of these little nuggets adds a sense of authenticity and character to the otherwise straight forward RGP. Most developers don’t take the time to build a true sandbox game where pioneering the countryside is just as much fun as hacking and slashing your way through a dungeon. For the most part, Ravensword gets this right. Even though its map is smaller in scale than some recent console RPG epics, Crescent Moon has nailed the aimless seeker vibe perfectly.

Controls: Like many first-person shooters, a virtual D-pad controls a character’s movement while a swipe across the screen guides his attention in any given direction. Touching a friendly character allows players to engage in conversation while touching an unfriendly character targets them for an attack. Although strafing left or right seems a bit slow, this interface works well. One suggestion for an update: since weight of a player’s inventory doesn’t seem to be a problem, an auto pick-up of loot from vanquish foes would be nice.

Audio: The orchestral music harkens back to the scores of Braveheart and Lord of the Rings. What could be better than that? While there are no voice-overs for characters’ voices, the ambient sound effects of birds in the trees and sheep baaing add just the right amount of texture to the world.

Character Progression: As the character gains experience, he also levels up. When this happen, there are no customization options. Many consider this a drawback, but some will consider this an advantage. Most of the time, character customization in an RPG amounts to little more than a false front; no matter what skill tree or attribute a player chooses to advance at each level, by the end of the story, they all equal out anyway. So, why put up the facade? (Note: The Zelda series has never bothered with customization, and they’ve done very well over the years; Link advances by getting an additional heart at the end of each dungeon and that’s it.) Skipping this feature entirely is actually a relief that allows players to experience the world and the story instead of their avatar.

Dislikes

Fighting: While the battle system is never confusing, it could use some tweaking. Even though most battles are determined more by a character’s level than a player’s skill, melee is cumbersome. The touch targeting system helps, but a HUD sensing system would be nice addition, especially when the player encounters beasties at his feet.

First Person Perspective: The biggest annoyance is the first-person perspective option. It only stays activated through one load screen; this means if a gamer prefers playing with this perspective, he must constantly choose the magnifying glass when he enters or leaves buildings or comes into a new area.

Make no mistake: Ravensword: The Fallen King is more than solid; it is excellent. The drawbacks mentioned above don’t pull too much away from the experience. While casual gamers will enjoy the graphical leap the iPhone has made with this game, RPG fans will relish in the experience and beg for more. Not only is Ravensword a new high-mark for the iPhone, it is also the best handheld game I’ve ever seen.

musthave

Ravensword: The Fallen King was produced by Crescent Moon Games and published by Chillingo. It is currently available for $6.99; the game’s 1.0 version was reviewed on an iPod Touch 2G equipped with OS 3.1.1.

Ravensword2

Ravensword3

‘Ravensword: The Fallen King’ Released

Everyone, including me, was dismayed at even the thought of Ravensword being rejected.  Of course,  I always had the thought in my head, and with so much content, there’s bound to be something Apple didn’t like.  Sorry for being pessimistic here, but here’s some great news that is sure to make that frown upside down.

Ravensword: The Fallen King has been approved after only 5 days in submission, and it must have had something to do with the “Unity” media coverage.  If you haven’t heard already, the Unity engine contained some code that allowed you to retrieve the phone’s phone number along with other information, and because of this code many Unity projects were rejected by Apple.

After Storm8 was accused of this crime, Apple seemed to take control over the issue and reject every game that had the ability to do this.  It seems that now Apple has compensated for their mistakes by releasing Ravensword in just 5 days.

We should have a full review up sooner than later, but check out this video while you’re waiting.

Ravensword Near Completion, New Controls Implemented

In our interview with Josh, he detailed that the game would be arriving early November and submitted around the 15th of October, today being the 20th.  There have been some small delays here and there, but from what this video shows, the end is near.

According to the developer’s Twitter:

final bug fixes – we’re very close to submitting…

I really hope that the end really is near, and with the implementation of new controls, there’s really not much more to add.  It seems like auto-targetting with a bow and arrow has also been added, although this feature was not exactly displayed in the video.  This is a huge jump forward from the first gameplay video we’ve seen, and again, we hope Ravensword very soon.

Ravensword: The Fallen King: An Interview With Crescent Moon Software

Ravensword: The Fallen King is arguably my most anticipated game along with Asphalt 5, and we here at NoDPad got the chance to speak to the creator of this game.  If you didn’t know, Ravensword was made by only two people with one person doing all the coding.  To me, that’s quite an accomplishment and a feat that I could never accomplish.

Ravensword is being published by Chillingo and will be available as early as November.  The price is being set at lower than $6.99, and the game has been optimized for the iPhone 3GS.  If you own a lower device model, the game will still be playable but with less polygons, graphics, etc.

NoDPad: For those that are unfamiliar, can you provide some information about Ravensword: The Fallen King and who you are?

Josh: Ravensword is a 3d action RPG for the iPhone and iPod touch.  It has a very large and detailed open world to explore, tons of beasts to fight, many missions to perform, and even some mini games. Its actually been in development for over 2 years, but not all of that time was spent on the iPhone, it was just developing assets to be used in the original game which was going to be PC game – a multi-player first person shooter set in fantasy style.

NoDPad: Why did you start developing for the iPhone?

Josh: We had some technical difficulty with the original that set us back, and I was looking for something else to do with the mountain of assets that I had. I had an iPhone and just saw a lack of 3d rpg’s. The graphics could be taken to the next level, at least in that genre. I found Russ Menapace in searching for an iPhone programmer, and its been a great collaboration. He’s actually coded the entire thing by himself!

NoDPad: How long have you been developing games?  What other projects have you worked on?

Josh: Before working on Ravensword I was an Art Director at a visualization studio in Boston.  I decided to start my own company and move back home. I also started an R/C company that makes unique radio controlled toys. Right now we are just putting all of our effort into Ravensword, and it has grown and developed into something which is much more than either of us expected.

NoDPad: You’ve chosen to be published by Chillingo.  What was your motivation behind this decision?

Josh: Chillingo was great to deal with, and they made us the best offer out of any of the other publishers we were approached by.  So far I have nothing but great things to say about them. Their comments and ideas have been truly helpful throughout the process.

NoDPad: Any closing thoughts?

Josh: Ravensword should arrive on the App Store by early November. We are polishing up some things now including some new controls and an Auto-Target feature (which will be an option). Be looking out for it!

Thank you Josh Presseseisen for your time!  Be sure to check out Ravensword: The Fallen King early November.  Be sure to check out the all new gameplay video along with the official website to get a feel for what the game will be like.

Ravensword_Lava01

Ravensword_MountainCave3