Sister Angelika has a slight problem: the hordes of zombies that are taking over the town of Jalombe. With the help of Father Richiardo and armed with a “soul redeemer” scythe, Sister Angelika must rid the town of the zombies and find out where they’re coming from. BulkyPix’s Twin Blades for the iPhone is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game with some eye-popping visuals and a lot of action, but it can also get a bit repetitive after a while.
Though at first glance the map appears to have only ten levels on it, the game is actually a bit more difficult than that. As time passes, the zombies in a particular level get stronger and faster, so if you don’t clear a level right away then it gets harder. Visiting Father Richiardo in the monastery allows you to upgrade both your character (health, energy capacity, and so on) or your projectile weapons (from a simple gun to a flamethrower to the holy beam). And after you clear out a few levels, then a boss shows up, and these are tough. So far I’ve only been able to defeat the first one, and only then after maxing out most of my abilities.
The controls are fairly straightforward: left thumb controls movement, the two buttons on the right are for slashing and shooting, and you flip up or down in the upper right to select the projectile weapon. The trick, though, is that your projectile weapon uses up energy which can only be refilled by offing zombies with the scythe—killing off zombies with just the flamethrower can be fun, but you’ll run out of ammo pretty quickly.
There’s a story mode, which runs you through the various levels and reveals bits of story as you progress. Each level is only completed by killing a set number of zombies, which increases over the course of the game. Survival mode challenges you to survive 31 days of zombie onslaught, running through the levels as quickly as you can, and only providing the opportunity to upgrade at the end of each day.
Visually, the game is impressive: the characters are manga-inspired and each weapon has its own special effects. However, in story mode the introduction of new zombies is very gradual (unlike, say, Plants vs. Zombies), so you’ll keep seeing the same zombies and same animations over and over again. (In survival mode, you’ll start encountering different types of zombies a little sooner.) The backgrounds are also a treat for the eyes—the first time around. But after you’ve seen the town, the marketplace, the cemetery, and the cathedral for the nth time you may be less thrilled.
I played Twin Blades quite a bit, trying to play out the story mode and rack up OpenFeint achievements, but it started feeling monotonous. The non-boss levels, while they do get more and more difficult, become more of a chore, something you do so you can buy some upgrades and move on. Possibly I’m just not very good at it (and I didn’t grasp right away how the zombies in one level were getting stronger as I was playing a different level), but there seemed to be a big disparity in the difficulty of the average levels and the bosses. I could clear a level with no problem, but then kept dying at the boss levels, and had to repeat the easy levels several more times to buy a bigger gun.
Overall, it’s good for a bit of zombie-killing in your spare time, but might not be worth the $2.99 price tag. There’s a lot of blood and gore (albeit cartoonish) so it’s not appropriate for younger kids.
Wired: Great visuals, lots of action, and a nun who fights zombies with a giant scythe.
Tired: Repetitive and in some areas overly difficult.
Disclosure: I received a free download of Twin Blades for review.