As a platform, the iPhone requires a truthful developer. The developer must be willing to admit the iPhone’s limits and take those limits into consideration from the very beginning stages of the game. This is why so many RPG ports and attempts to bring a “console-quality” RPG to the iPhone have gone largely unnoticed and been relatively unsuccessful. Virtual joysticks, a lot of small text, and large price tags simply don’t inspire long-term play. Something tells me that Crescent Moon Games had a firm grasp on this concept before they started to craft Rimelands: Hammer of Thor.
Rimelands is a (purportedly) episodic RPG epic, and begins with the $5 first installment, “Hammer of Thor”. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that remains after men nearly destroyed the earth with their greed, Rose Cristo embarks on an adventure in which she basically does a bunch of things her “Granma” asks. Truthfully, it’s best not to think too hard about the story, characters or dialogue. Events seem contrived after a while and the dialogue often feels hurriedly written and strangely out of place.
Where Rimelands shines, though, is in its masterful treatment of standard RPG staples. By far the best thing about the game, the combat will rarely get old, even when you find yourself stuck on a tough enemy. Every new skill added after leveling up brings new strategy to the mix, and with three different character “paths” to place your skill points, those skills can be as varied or focused as you like. The dice rolling combat style is a satisfying approach and works extremely well on the iPhone, as does the movement style, which allows us to direct our character one step at a time.
In fact, this choice of play style lends itself most notably to some incredibly satisfying and rewarding pick-up-and-play gaming on the iPhone. Waiting in line? Take the opportunity to launch Rimeworlds and finish off that enemy you were getting ready to kill. By the time you’ve reached the front of the line, you’ve gained some experience points, a bit of mana, and found a giant sword in a treasure chest. Time well spent.
Only a few missteps keep this game from being a truly great experience. Though the 3D isometric graphics lend themselves to some impressive lighting effects, most of the time they look muddy and unimpressive. A hand-drawn setting that looked more like the cut-scenes we are treated to during major story-points could have been infinitely more pleasing to the eye.
There’s also the issue of knowing what the heck is going on: it’s just not possible for much of the game. The combat system, the powers and abilities of the enemies, and how to use various systems and skills are simply not documented. While much of this information is intuitive, you’ll find yourself unsure or bewildered at much of the smaller things that go on in this game. This can be quite frustrating when an enemy’s bad dice roll flashes and suddenly results in your demise.
Still, if you’re an RPG enthusiast and you’re looking for an experience that’s well suited to the iPhone rather than simply mimicking the console, it would be disingenuous to steer you elsewhere. Rimelands embraces the qualities that make the RPG satisfying and addictive and isolate them, crafting a well-paced and enduring adventure you won’t want to put down when you’re finally at the front of that line.
Review copy provided by publisher.