If you grew up playing Metroidvania games and have a fondness for them, it’s natural that you would look for similar games to play on every device that you can get your hands on.
That’s where Swordigo comes in, a 2012 mobile game that carries fun gameplay and simplicity of the classic NES platformers and adds enough fluidity and charm within the gameplay to not feel like a product out of time.
Everything that you know and love about the Metroidvania genre is present here – there’s smart level design which greatly rewards exploration, fun and diverse enemies to kill, and also the addition of small RPG elements such as leveling up and unlocking new abilities.
So, is there a catch to all of that?. Let's find out.
Swordigo is greatly polished and has very smooth gameplay, and while it may appear too simple at the start, it gets much better as you play onwards.
You can unlock different swords and upgrade your health and attacks in general. There are also multiple magic abilities that unlock as you progress through the game.
The upgrade points are unlocked each time you level up, but you can also buy certain things from the game’s shop with ‘soul shards’ that enemies will drop.
The game is filled with small details that show you that it’s not just an attempt at grabbing cash, but something that has a bit of heart poured in.
The developers did not have much of a budget with the graphics but it does not mean that they did not make the best use of what they had available to them.
The gameplay has a lot of depth because of the variation in enemy classes, and even existing enemies have sub-classes such as normal bats having a fire-bats variation. It keeps the experience fresh and diverse.
And one welcome change the game has over older Metroidvania adventures is the fact that the game saves doors you unlock and events you trigger, even if you die without passing through them, which in general saves a lot of time.
There are fairly detailed interiors in the game, which only goes to show the amount of work put into it as it could have simply been done without these aspects since Swordigo barely has a story and the graphics are not that good anyway.
The game’s soundtrack is surprisingly catchy and well-looped, and the sound effects are really crisp to hear too. Half the fun of me attacking the enemies was hearing the protagonist yelling and the sword touching the surface of their bodies.
However, there are a few rough edges to the game’s sound design as some things simply lack sounds, such as lifting a giant box for example.
One of the most important aspects of a mobile game is its UI and controls, and in the time that I spent with Swordigo, the controls were fluid and precise.
But, the UI in some places can be confusing, such as pausing the game and other small things.
Swordigo is a great adventure game that really lives up to its reputation and will satisfy any fan of the genre. Its solid level design and intelligent boss fights are more fun than frustrating – and that is something of an achievement for any game to get right.
The game would have an even higher score if it was a bit longer, the missing sound effects were fixed, and if the graphics had an upgrade.