Saturday, 17 October 2015

9th Dawn - The 90s RPG for Smartphones

Valorware's 9th Dawn, an Open World RPG for Android, is most commonly referred to as a 2D Skyrim for your phone. I can't really think of higher praise for an RPG (other than maybe replacing Skyrim for Oblivion, controversy be damned!) and I can't really think of a flaw in that statement.

You choose from Knight, Mage, Archer or Justiblander (a combination of the three) and wake up in your bed. A man named Kelan stands outside and when you are ready shows you some local hotspots and introduces you to your assistant, the fairy Nevi.

From there you are free to wonder, taking quests from the locals, exploring caves, gathering loot. The usual RPG fare. The 2D world is a wonderful place to explore with beasts and bandits to fight and an array of dungeons to clear and places to discover. No it isn't the prettiest thing in the world but the graphics do the job considering the style the game is trying to achieve. My only real critique is it would have been nice to have different armour and weapons make a visual change to your character.

You control the game via two virtual thumb sticks and some touch screen menus. The left stick moves and the right stick attacks, controlling your sword, bow or magic. The sensitivity is spot on and the input from the two sticks is very playable. The menus are a decent size on my phone, an LG G3, and everything is generally intuitive, easy to access and not confusing. It's old school, which may put some off, but it's supposed to be. A 1990s RPG with some modern flare and touch screen controls.

There isn't much in terms of story, of course there's purpose behind the quests but the game is about exploring, making your own way, figuring things out and overcoming the monsters and the challenges of the world. Its vast, immensely replayable and will keep you gripped to your phone for hours on end.

Some may be put off by its challenge, its lack of hand holding. The sheer freedom that the game offers can be daunting, the lack of a quest arrow can be disorienting and the fact that even an early game monster can slaughter you can be frustrating. Take it how you want to but I see things as charming, old school throwbacks.

Whatever your take on the game's old school idiosyncrasies you won't find a game with the depth, replayability and freedom of 9th Dawn.

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