Sunside Games has constructed something rarely seen on iOS: an on-rails game with a unique combination of game mechanics, intense combat and unique exploration. Crow ($4.99, App Store Link) is a story-driven journey in which you must slash and fly your way through an ancient battle in a dark fantasy world, and is definitely worth downloading if you enjoy dark action-based gaming.
You play as the Crow of course,which seemed to have been summoned by a master or owner of sorts. The master has led you to destroy powerful creatures and evil monsters that are inhabiting the world that’s been turned dark, so it’s now up to you to revitalize it. Being that Crows are known for being an omen or bad luck, the Crow is persuaded by both sides, good and evil, but ultimately the creatures are trying to turn the Crow evil. This is where the on-rails action begins, and visually, it’s as good as it gets.
As the story beings, you’re dropped in a dark world where you have to search for gems hidden around the map. You can fly freely around the levels while collecting gems and exploring, which is discovery mode. With the challenges and boss battles, Crow is strictly on-rails. I found that aspect of the game interesting. Combining free roaming gameplay with an on-rails mechanic isn’t common. It does work, but sometimes I felt like I wanted to do one or the other more often and just have something consistent.
Speaking of the graphics, Sunside games has used their in-house game platform, Radiance. Crow features some stunning visuals and cutscenes. Just flying around in discovery mode is an enjoyable experience to take some time to gaze upon the visuals. Some of the character designs themselves, such as the crow, have a lot of texture and are great to look at while others don’t seem as much as up to par. I also found some of the text hard to read being dark on a dark background.
Overall, Sunside Games did a great job, and with graphics optimized for the new iPad’s retina display as well as the iPhone 4/4S, it’s one of the better looking action games on the App Store.
The controls of crow are quite simple. In discovery mode you tap to the direction you want the crow to go in. In the battle and challenge mode, you use the accelerometer to move the crow on-rails. The combat system in the game isn’t quite what I expected. In some ways it resembles the combat in Infinity Blade to the point where you swipe across the screen to perform attacks and use your shield. It just seems to easy and simple for a game that’s so great in so many other ways. I would have liked to just use buttons to perform attacks rather than swiping. To use the attacks you have to collect gems when you’re on-rails, then when the circle on the bottom left fills up, you can perform your attacks.
Crow also features a great dark soundtrack, which fits perfectly with the gameplay. As for the battles, the music picks up more and it makes the gameplay more intense. The sound effects are also really great. You kind of get sucked into the game and especially while exploring the world, the music and sound really come alive.
Overall, Sunside Games did a fine job turning Crow into something that has that rare combination of great graphics, on-rails and discovery gameplay, and a unique combat system. Not too many developers can pull this off, but when you have an interesting story such as the one in Crow, it works really well. For the more casual gamer, the story might be hard to follow.
The gameplay is a little too easy and it does seem a bit repetitive at times. The controls are easy to pickup, and even might be too easy. It would have been nice to see an option if you wanted to adjust the controls to make it harder overall. Crow is a solid game if you’re looking for something completely different, and more of a dark adventure game.
Price: ($4.99, App Store Link)
- Amazing graphics
- Nice soundtrack
- Strong storyline
- Short game
- Gameplay is too easy
- Would like to have had buttons on screen instead of swiping for attacks