Battlebow is a decent distraction for iPhone. A game that has a simple heart, but has been given added depth due to the sheer amount of upgrade and weapon options that have been grafted on to create an RPG-lite experience that augments the game.
The game sees you take control of one of four different heroes, each with a slightly altered move set. For example, the crossbowman shoots weak arrows at a fast pace, while the sorceress has slower firing magic spells that have wide area effects or home in on enemies, but in essence you are doing he same thing with all of them.
You stand completely still at the bottom of the screen, with your character firing projectiles in the direction that you touch the screen. If you keep your finger held down, you will fire constantly, which is a good thing as you will soon have a whole load of demons moving down the screen towards you. They will sometimes move very quickly and erratically and usually appear in large groups. If they reach you, they will try to kill you, at which point you do have some close combat options. Swiping down will block an attack, while swiping left, right or forwards will strike out at the enemy, with the forward swipe also pushing the foe back.
It is an interesting combination, which does work well for the most part. Shooting the demons is fun, and there is a real sense of feedback when your ranged attacks strike home, and the different kinds of attacks are all pretty satisfying, and the way you can switch between them on the fly helps here. Playing as the Sorceress, I can switch between lightening, which can effect several enemies at once, to more narrow but powerful fireballs when needed. There is an ‘aggro’ system at play here that adds a little extra combat depth.
The only real gripe here is that the close combat isn’t quite perfect. When facing one or two enemies, it works just fine, but you can sometimes be surrounded by dozens of demons, and it becomes very difficult to repel attacks. I get that you are supposed to push groups back with a forwards swipe, but it is usually a case of whether your health will hold out or not, as their attacks are too frenzied. Not a deal breaker by any means, and I understand that the game is about learning where waves spawn from and not getting in that situation in the first place. If the character reacted to your swipes an instant faster, this issue would be mitigated somewhat.
You can upgrade all aspects of your character, both with items found in battle and coins gained from loot. You can buy new armour, weapons, status affecting rings, and much more, all wrapped up in a level based system that suits the game well.
The graphics here are really nice, with a classic 16 bit look that I really dig. The monster designs are superb, with a lot of thought obviously put into them and the player characters. The music is equally impressive. Battlebow is of the free to play variety, so you can purchase various bit and pieces via IAP’s, such as crystals to unlock characters, and coins for buying items.
The game has built in achievements to increase play time, and a nice social based ‘Gossip’ area where it is possible to converse with the developer. Overall, this would be a solid game, but there is a trump card hidden away in the game- a superb co-op mode. It plays identically to the single player game, except that in this shared screen mode, one player is on the left and one is on the right. It is brilliant fun, and eclipses the main mode.
In conclustion, this is a really good title that is addictive, and although the close up combat is weaker than the ranged elements, this is still worth a download, especially when you consider the excellent co-op mode the developer has included. With some nice visuals and plenty of items, this is a very good title.