If you like to feel like a brawny hero with bulging pectoral muscles and a burning need to save the world, look no further: Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Aydan is just the thing for you. Proudly wearing its Legend of Zelda influence on its sleeve (the horses in your stables are named Miya and Moto as a nod to Nintendo's famed designer), this action RPG offers all the adventure, sword swinging and treasure chest plundering your heart could desire. But is it fun to play? Hit the break, and we'll tell you.
Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Aydan is billed as a "free" App, but don't be fooled - it's not quite that. You can download a brief demo without opening your wallet, but once you get through the tutorial and a few basic missions, you'll be asked to pay $6.99 to continue the adventure. However, 15 minutes is about all it takes to realize this one’s definitely worth the entry fee. You play the role of Aydan, a strapping young man who goes from dreaming of a mysterious princess to saving her life and being sent on a quest to fulfill your destiny as a Grail Seeker. And who doesn't love realizing that the future of the free world rests on their own shoulders? Right then, off we go…
Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Aydan looks pretty decent as far iPhone games go. It's fully 3D and features voiceovers (although the dialogue is a little bit painful sometimes), which aren’t anywhere near as stiff and awkward as one might expect. Movement is controlled with a thumb stick on the left bottom corner, and you have a few small icons on the far bottom right that give you control of your sword, shield, and your horse. Yes, you get to ride a horse, which is handy as can be when you're traveling to your next destination.
Fighting is smooth and fun, and we particularly liked that your autotarget flips from one enemy to the next while fighting without additional button presses. You can adjust the camera by swiping your finger across the screen as well - which isn't quite as natural as shoulder buttons would be, but it's the best the iPhone can offer. We had a few moments where the camera angle got in the way while in boss fights, so be ready to keep moving. Sacred Odyssey also wins major points for featuring a mini map that always shows your next quest destination, eliminating any possibility of wandering the map endlessly and wishing you could just hurl the iPhone across the room out of pure frustration.
As you explore the world, you’ll meet people who will assign you quests – many of which lead to you tramping through dungeons, slaying lots of baddies and facing off against a big mean boss at the end. Yep, it's that golden Zelda formula, but it's worked well for many years now, and if you dig Zelda, you are probably going to like this. If you're in no rush to plow through the main storyline, you can also take on a variety of sidequests, which are indicated by a handy colored icon over NPC's heads. None of them offer really amazing awards, but they can be fun to do anyway and give you more time to roam about the world, see the sights, and find money to spend on power-ups (though skilled players can probably get by without many of these pricey assists).
Sacred Odyssey knows exactly what gamer it’s aiming for, and there's nothing wrong with that. It definitely has moments where it just feels like a Zelda or Darksiders clone, sure, but there's also nothing else quite like it on the App store. And since Nintendo surely won't be bringing a real Zelda to this platform, this is what we've got and we welcome it.
The gameplay is a lot of fun, and while the story is standard, it's executed well and will keep you engaged. We noticed a hiccup or two where the game needed a moment to load while riding the horse or fighting a large mob, but on the whole, it won't drag you down. And that's a good thing, because when you've got to save your kingdom, there's no time for slowdown.
Feb 28, 2011