After the tremendous success of ChAIR Entertainment's Shadow Complex, many hoped the Utah-based developer would jump right into the production of a sequel. Instead, the studio has been largely quiet in the interim, until three days ago, when their newest project was announced: Infinity Blade, an action-RPG for iOS devices.
No doubt the news disappointed, or at least baffled, some Shadow Complex fans. After all, Shadow Complex was a great looking, great playing game, and moving from the powerful Xbox 360 to a portable system that lacks any kind of traditional control interface has got to be a pretty big step down, right? Judging by this stunning new trailer for Infinity Blade, apparently not.
Seriously, that's impressive. Go ahead - watch it again. We'll wait.
The graphical prowess of Nintendo's forthcoming 3DS and the potential power of Sony's still-not-officially-announced PSP2 have both received a fair amount of press recently. That a game as graphically impressive as Infinity Blade is about to be delivered on devices that are already in millions of homes is fairly stunning, and has to be considered a major victory for iOS as a platform.
Sharp eyed gamers may recognize the castle in the video from the Epic Citadel iOS tech demo, and they'd be right to do so. Infinity Blade does, in fact, run on the Unreal Engine 3, and will be the first such game to hit Apple's devices when it is released this holiday season.
Okay, so it looks good. What about the actual game? From the press release:
"Taking handheld gaming to new heights, the graphically intense 'Infinity Blade' features adrenaline-fueled sword battles and epic boss fights set in the realm of a fully 3D castle. The game’s robust single-player mode features an intuitive combat interface and simple touch controls which enable hardcore and casual gamers alike to engage in fun, furious battles. As play progresses, players gain experience, build stats and earn more powerful items to prepare their knight for the final encounter with the game’s nemesis, the God-King."
Free post launch DLC, including online multiplayer through Game Center, has already been planned. If the game can deliver on all its promises, it should be a very happy holiday season for iPhone and iPad gamers, not to mention a testament to the talent of ChAIR Entertainment.
ChAIR has a fascinating history. Founded after the disintegration of GlyphX Games, whose ambitious Orson Scott Card collaboration Advent Rising failed to make much impact at retail (at least in part due to the dire financial situation of publisher Majesco), ChAIR's first effort was the Xbox Live underwater shooter Undertow. Though initially offered for sale on XBLA, the game became ubiquitous when Microsoft gave it away in early 2008 to make up for Xbox Live outages during the previous holidays.
Of course, Shadow Complex remains the game that brought the company's name to the attention of the masses, and rightly so. A tightly designed 'Metroidvania' for the console crowd, Shadow Complex was almost instantly hailed as an example of just how good downloadable games could be. Now, about that sequel? Says ChAIR's Donald Mustard:
"We'd love to make another one. We've got sweet ideas for more stuff but right now everyone is completely focused on getting Infinity Blade out the door."
Ranters, do you think Infinity Blade will be enough to tide you over until ChAIR can deliver a Shadow Complex sequel? What do you think about developers moving from console to handheld development?
Infinity Blade will release this holiday season for iOS devices.