Conan: Tower of the Elephant review (iOS/Universal)

August 23, 2011

“Master swordsman of Hyborian Age
His name is legend to this very day”

10 word description: Action adventure. Explore world, defeat enemies, find treasure. 50 quests.

10 word review: Rather rough, occasionally buggy, lightweight combat, yet still quite entertaining.

Because that game is called Nebulus and you are not in it

You will like this if you enjoy: Dungeon Hunter, action RPGs, anything to do with Conan.

Conan receives the Copper Pipe - a special award for killing the same thief in the same back alley 25 thousand times

The good news: Simple, fairly intuitive gameplay. Clear, albeit unremarkable graphics. Fairly easy, plenty of health pick-ups in loot and barrels. Nice graphic novel (cartoon) style cut-scenes.

The inventory is largely pointless, at least as far as I could tell. Unless you feel like glitching your way to a full bag of health potions

The bad news: A general feeling that it hasn’t been extensively tested. Quests and dialogue/messages sometimes repeat after they should have been completed or have since been superseded by in-game events. For example, the “talk to someone, then open a chest” tutorial quest can be repeatedly taken and the quest item (a health potion) can be earned a potentially infinite number of times. The game occasionally crashes during transition from one area to another, or when something significant occurs, such as a quest objective being completed. NPCs can glitch when trying to go through a doorway and get stuck. Enemies respawn rather quickly, leading to Groundhog Day style journeys through the city. Merchants, instead of stocking a range of gear, have a very simple “Do you want to upgrade, Yes/No” option.

Another brawl breaks out in the slums

Arcadelife verdict: This game is a bit of a paradox. The game engine, while reminiscent of a PS1 title, is perfectly acceptable for a game like this. The cut-scenes are not bad and the menus and interface are fairly polished. However, there are too many bugs, glitches, crashes and over-simplified game elements. It just feels unfinished, or hastily finished. Sometimes an arrow will point to a quest objective, sometimes it won’t. You often have to jiggle Conan around in front of an NPC in order to get the speech bubble icon to appear, and the same criticism applies to any kind of object interaction. Combat feels insubstantial as there are no indications that your blows are even hitting your opponent until he falls over.

The map is a bit messy and only occasionally useful

And yet, despite all that, I do want to keep playing. It’s a shame whenever a potentially great game gets let down by a bunch of minor issues that could be easily sorted out. Conan is a classic character, a perfect action RPG candidate. Please don’t leave him to flounder about in a buggy, unpolished game.

My recommendation for anyone considering improving this game – take a few tips from the best unofficial Conan game: Barbarian, which absolutely nailed Conan style sword-fighting. Then build the rest of the game up from that. Sure, your age rating will rocket, but so will your game’s popularity.

The Prince of Thieves is just ... ever so slightly camp

Arcadelife rating: 58/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Chillingo / Conan website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.5)
iPad (OS 4.3.5)

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