There are many pixelated platformers to be found on the Play Store if you’re in the mood to play one, but usually, the problem with most of them is a severe lack of creativity.
Fortunately, we often stumble upon exceptions that restore our faith in the genre on mobile devices, as some games have truly been a subject of hard work and an honest vision. That’s where Sword of Xolan comes in.
At first glance, it appears to be your run-of-the-mill pixelated mobile game.
However, as soon as you begin playing – you realize that it has a lot of potential.
The gameplay of Sword of Xolan is pretty straightforward as far as platformers go.
The game has a simple control scheme which consists of two buttons for movement, and a button each for attacking with a sword, throwing a fireball, and jumping – which initiates a double jump when tapped twice.
You’re first treated to a decent intro that has great voice acting and provides context for the game’s setting, and afterwards the action starts right away.
You have to go through 30 unique levels which are separated into 3 unique acts.
In each level, you have to fight (or avoid) multiple types of enemies. They’re split between those who use melee attacks and those who throw projectiles towards you, so there’s always a variety in terms of how you need to approach certain situations.
Sword of Xolan is one of the rare mobile games that wants the player to beat it, that too without annoying microtransactions or advertisements plaguing your experience.
The game can get a little difficult after the first act – but only if you play carelessly. I found myself able to even complete later levels without taking any damage at all once I understood the game’s enemy placement and patterns, which was a fun experience because the game design is not frustratingly difficult.
Instead, the difficulty spikes are only meant to make the game more intense and it’s always fun to live up to the challenge no matter how many times I die before I manage to complete it.
I had a blast playing the game and found it very difficult to stop, nearly finishing it in one go due to how simple and entertaining it is.
The boss fights take a bit more skill, but they’re still fairly balanced and can be defeated if you’re willing to put in the effort – no in-app purchases are required to get stronger. Once you get used to the pattern the bosses have, it’s a very fun experience to finally defeat them and progress further into the story.
Despite using pixel-art for the game’s graphics which is becoming a trend with platformer games these days, Sword of Xolan does an excellent job in the visual department.
There’s a decent amount of creativity with how everything is designed, whether it’s the playable character or the environment around you.
The animations are crisp and very fun to watch, while everything in the background is detailed and pleasing to look at. It’s one of the best examples of good pixel-art usage that you’ll see in a mobile game. And fortunately, it also avoids aesthetic repetition as each act has a different type of terrain and background to look at.
The UI of the game is very clean, which makes everything easy to navigate through and it also does not feel amateurish in any way. The polish, on the other hand, is absolutely amazing. Not only is the game free of any technical issues based on my experience with it, but the controls also work so perfectly that very precise movements can be executed.
For example, sometimes coins can fall on top of spikes. However, if you time your jump just right, you can fall towards the spikes and touch/collect the coin before jumping back outside and thus avoid any damage. Given that this game is an action-platformer, having such responsive controls is a blessing.
The sound design of the game is one of the best I’ve heard in a game of this type. The voice acting is entertaining to listen to, and there’s a sound effect for everything that you do in the game.
The background music is very catchy and high-quality – and fortunately, it changes per act and boss fight which allows it to remain fresh enough to avoid repetition.
However, it would have been better if there was a bit of a variation within the music at least halfway through an act because it can feel like it’s been on for too long. But it’s still far better than how many other games handle this problem since the music itself is slightly memorable.
In an oversaturated market full of mobile games that fail miserably at providing a good adventure – Sword of Xolan is a gem among the pile, having great gameplay, cool retro graphics, and a catchy soundtrack.