Overall Score 85%
Fall of Angels
A meteorite has landed, and two kingdoms are already fighting over it when the international team from CEL arrives to take over. With the dispute quickly settled, they receive new orders - head for a nearby temple. There they encounter a little girl, supposedly possessed by a demon, and chaos ensues. But surely magic is impossible? How does she make fire appear from nowhere? How does a little girl take out two highly trained killers? And what does CEL know about all this?
It's up to Sariel, one of CEL's Razer combat operatives, to figure out what is going on. Your task is to guide him on his quest, meeting new friends and battling all manner of enemies, exploring places new and old, solving puzzles. Fall of Angels is an old-style RPG that plays in a similar fashion to the old Final Fantasy games - you equip your party, gain experience in combat and seek to unravel the mystery of the main storyline. The biggest difference here is doing so on the iPhone, which works surprisingly well.
Controls are simple, and explained by tutorial texts as you play. You move around the world by holding down a finger on the screen, which plants a "joystick". Dragging your finger moves your characters in that direction. Let go of the screen and the "joystick" disappears, allowing you to plant it wherever on the screen is most convenient. When approaching things you can interact with, a yellow button appears and can be tapped. There's also a button to access the menu, where you can adjust your party's equipment, look at their skills and do such useful things as save your game. There are three save slots available.
Wandering about the various locations are a range of wandering monsters. They aren't too dangerous in themselves but you would be wise to keep an eye on your health. Defeating enemies nets you spoils, which can be sold to various merchants for gold. Items and equipment can also be bought and sold, but be careful - money is usually fairly tight. There are also occasional boss fights and lots of bonus items to be found hidden in corners. Sometimes you'll encounter puzzles to be solved, by examining unusual areas and manipulating items on screen.
Fall of Angels is very easy to get into and to operate, with a fairly linear path to follow. There's an intriguing storyline to keep you hooked and the difficulty curve seems well pitched. There's a "sprint" option which, while tricky to get the hang of at first, can be very useful for sneaking past the wandering monsters. It's a much simpler RPG than many modern offerings, with items cut way back and each character limited to one weapon type, and this, coupled with the fairly direct route through the game, can make the whole thing seem a little basic. At times I felt I was just following a script.
Graphically, Fall of Angels is impressive. There is a 3D sense to the world you explore, and the player characters are well drawn and animated. Their character portraits (during conversations and as buttons in combat or the menus) are line drawings and these work well too. I was less impressived with the monsters, however; while human enemies (such as the opening section's soldiers) look good, the animals have a cartoon style that jars with the rest of the graphics. But my favourite graphical element has to be the way the screen breaks like glass when you enter combat! Sound is also well represented here, with a range of sound effects for combat and other activities and a selection of high quality background music. Some puzzles may require sound, but you are given the option to replace them with text-based puzzles when you start a new game, which is a nice touch (but doesn't help if you realise you can't use sound later on!).
Good things to note include the game's website, which offers hints and tips for the player in trouble (including screenshots) and the fairly bold decision to make the game more realistic - there is no magic, unless you count the strange powers of the girl that CEL have been tracking. The creatures are odd variations on terrestrial animals, not orcs, dragons or kobolds. Characters have MP, but these are used for their special attacks and abilities. This is a refreshing change from the usual genre. It does seem, however, that we only have a single plot - so replay value may be limited. This is a shame.
I've not got especially far into the game due to an awkward crash bug. Checking on the website suggests this is a memory problem, and it has offered tips on how to close old apps on your phone that are still using resources; I didn't know about this, but it doesn't seem to have helped. Key events seem to trigger it, like using Alexander's "Scan" ability on the boss monster in the caves. I've never been able to use one of the abilities of Sariel's starting companions, which crashed the app every time I selected it. This is a frustrating bug and has impacted negatively on my experience with Fall of Angels. The good news is that your progress is automatically saved in case this happens, but as a result of the bug I've not yet had any sense of how long the game is.
Hopefully, with some investigation, these bugs can be identified and cleared up - Fall of Angels has a lot going for it and deserves success. There's a whole world sketched in here, and a range of organisations and characters that could be further explored. Maybe this is just the first in a series.
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