Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Army of Darkness on the iPad


Back from a lengthy trip to the Balkans where I basked like a lizard in the Mediterranean sunshine. But back in England now, a bit lighter, a bit browner, and braced for the onset of autumn.

The first post of the month is about Army of Darkness, a new free iPad app from Backflip Studios. It is inspired by the Bruce Campbell film of the same name, which featured the eponymous time travelling, zombie hunter Ash. In this game Ash and his human allies are defending a castle against an undead horde.

The game plays left to right: as Ash you must prevent attacking skeletons and zombies (and other critters like mini Ashes) from reaching your base. Armed with your trusty 'boom stick' (shotgun), you are effectively engaged in a fighting retreat, slowing the advancing horde by killing as many undead as you can.

Other weapons are available, like The Wrong Book, which can be used to banish undead, and a hail of burning arrows. But these weapons take time to recharge, so as Ash you need to judge their application precisely, usually when the undead are clustered together and you can take out a whole clump of them.

In addition, you have a Blacksmith who makes new troops for you. These range - thus far - from peasants and men-at-arms at the low levels, to more powerful troops like knights and heroes later on. There also seems to be a wizard character. Part of the game's tension is created by having to balance the additional time it takes the Blacksmith to make the more expensive fighters, against the urgent need to throw troops into the battle line. Peasants, while cheap, can still slow down the rampaging zombie horde at crucial moments.

Ash can pick up gold coins and lead bars when he advances back over territory held by the undead, providing some incentive to take the troops forward. Gold coins can be used to buy upgrades between levels, and lead can be used by the Blacksmith to make troops faster. I have to admit I feel the constant temptation to cower behind my doughty troops, picking up coins from under their feet as they advance, then scampering away if they get massacred. Not very heroic, perhaps, but then this is Ash, isn't it?

AoD is an addictive little game. My son has now got his sticky mitts on it, and taken my Ash from 7th level up to 40th, so I'm probably going to find myself completely outgunned next time I switch it on. The sound track is also decent, featuring music from the film, and characteristic quotes from Ash when various events happen. The undead have their own banter with which to taunt you as well!

I've not been gaming on the iPad for very long, it has to be said, but this is one of the better games I've played on it so far, along with Reiner Knizia's Samurai.

Not much gaming going on otherwise at the moment - many people are away on their holidays, having children, etc. I may see if I can get a boardgame in over the next couple of weeks, and there is the final replay of Ashak Rise from Bloodbath At Orc's Drift to look forwards to.