The Relic review (iOS/Universal)

April 16, 2011

“I, I am the axe, to cut down heroes like rats”

10 word description: Dungeon crawling action RPG adventure.Top-down Gauntlet style view.

There are no options to adjust anything like control position or music/sound volume.

10 word review: Potentially entertaining/chaotic Diablo clone, marred by several launch issues. 

Graphically it's ok, although the controller and icon size add to the "2x" look of the iPad screen, even though it's a universal app.

You will like this if you enjoy: Diablo, Gauntlet, action RPGs. (Once the initial issues are fixed in an update).

None of those skeletons has noticed that I just opened that door.

The good news: A furious, chaotic “you vs 8 billion enemies” action RPG would be great on iOS devices and the screenshots and early video suggested that this was going to be quite special…

The bad news: … however, this one has had an initial release that was tainted by several issues around the controls, AI and animations.  

The map is very useful for spotting where you haven't been yet.

Arcadelife verdict: Like many people, I was excited about this game before it was released. Screenshots and video looked great – a slightly tilted top-down Gauntlet style view and hectic Diablo style fighting against hordes of enemies. Playing the game, ignoring the problems for now, it does mostly live up to the static images and the video – fast-paced combat against fairly large crowds of enemies in a familiar corridors & rooms style dungeon crawl. Although it’s actually more of a rush than a crawl.

A few seconds after starting a game our fearless hero has become stuck in a barrel, necessitating a quit & restart solution.

Unfortunately the solid, if rather unoriginal, premise has been let down by several issues in the initial release.

There are no classes to choose - your axe-wielding warrior acquires magical powers very early on in the game.

I have to say, nothing that is currently broken can’t be fixed and the game has plenty going for it in its initial state to make it obvious that it will be a very enjoyable button-mashing dungeon rush once the problems are sorted out. There are several enemy types, each with their own attack and evade methods, and you have to develop simple strategies to deal with them, mostly involving knowing which ones will run away and which ones will surround you in a  group. Upgrading of health, mana, weapon damage and spells is done using kills as currency. Collected gold contributes to your score. As you progress, you are given simple quests (e.g. find something, kill something, destroy something) to complete before you can move on.   


I don’t really want to focus on the problems, but anyone considering getting The Relic in expectation of an update that fixes these issues needs to be aware of the following:

– D-Pad response is erratic. Position and size do not appear to have been tailored for the iPad in the universal build.
– Mashing the attack button (a necessity) stop/starts the attack animation and causes the hero to perform a twitchy attack that looks like he is under strobe lighting. The attacks still happen, it just looks bad.
– It is possible to get stuck in objects or scenery. Saving often to different save slots helps to alleviate the frustration of getting stuck and having to restart. Thankfully there are 5 manual slots, plus an autosave slot and you can save anytime you want. 
– Enemy AI isn’t perfect. Groups of skeletons often cluster together and fail to use open doors to reach the player character. Often, a single enemy will stand still or run aimlessly around.
– Enemies with ranged attacks tend to always run away from the player, moving at the same speed as the player, making them hard to catch and damage with the default melee attack of the axe. Frustration ensues.
– There are no options on the menu to adjust anything at all. 

Overall, I’m hanging on to a hope that this game will get the fixes that it deserves. The basic concept, style and graphics are all good enough to keep any action RPG fan playing this game, once the problems with the initial release have been sorted out.   

Arcadelife rating: 45/100

(I’ll potentially change this rating when an update that resolves any/all of the above issues is released)
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0

iTunes link

Chillingo/The Relic website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
3rd gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.1)
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.1)
iPad (OS 4.3.1)

One comment

  1. shame. Looking forward to an update before I buy

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