Ravensword: The Fallen King is one of the most ambitious games ever to hit the App Store. Inspired by the Elder Scrolls series, which includes some of the longest and most epic single--player role-playing games around, Ravensword brings open-world 3D fantasy gaming to the iPhone. The result is a big, gorgeous game that's overly stripped down in some respects but vast enough to reward dedication and exploration.
At the start of the game, your character wakes up in the town of Aven with no idea who or where he is, but by talking to the locals and working through the game's early quests, you piece together what's happening to the world. You, then, begin your larger quest to figure out who you are and what happened to the king, who vanished several years ago. The storyline is typical RPG stuff, and it's told in a less-than-thrilling but competent way. The whole game takes about 10 hours complete if you take on all of the side quests.
When you accept a quest, it's placed in a log, where you can view all of your quests and the steps required to complete them. The menu interface is easy to use and will immediately make sense to anyone who has played this type of game before. The basic controls are similarly user-friendly. There's a stick in the lower left-hand corner that controls forward, backward, and side-to-side movement; you also can drag anywhere on the rest of the screen to look around.
Fighting uses a lock-on feature similar to the 3D Zelda games. If you tap an enemy to highlight it, your perspective will remained locked onto the beast, leaving you free to approach, evade, and hack away at it. And hack away you will because fighting in this game is mostly button mashing. Your two primary options for taking down bad guys are to stand at a distance and shoot arrows into them or to go up close and stab them. Either way, you'll just end up tapping the attack button as fast as you can. If you're the sort of RPG fan who likes using magic spells, you may be disappointed because Ravensword's magic system is limited to enchanted stones that have mysterious effects and are expensive to recharge. Your player character is a fighter plain and simple--so you can't play as a wizard or a cleric.
Also, unlike many other RPGs, Ravensword doesn't emphasize collecting loot or enhancing your ability scores. There are only a handful of weapons and two different sets of armor in the entire game. Quests will occasionally reward you with a new weapon, but you won't randomly stumble upon any weapons aside from the occasional dagger or club dropped by a low-level enemy. Also, none of the items in the game have actual statistics, so you'll be hard pressed to figure out whether your new mace or sword is actually better than the one you already have. Your character has stats, but you don't get to custom-assign points to them when you level up--that's done for you automatically.
The game also has a problematic map system. Even though exploration is a big part of the game, the in-game map only gives you a vague sense of your location--there isn't even a compass to tell you which way you're facing. In addition, some quests will require you to run all over the place, but the only "fast travel" option in the game is to head back to your hometown of Aven, so you'll end up trudging long distances to places you've already been. However, the gameworld is very large, and you never have to travel far before you come across something interesting. It can be enjoyable to just wander through the game's varied environments, fighting polar bears on snowy peaks and lizardmen on the shores of lava streams.
Otherwise, Ravensword looks good and has atmospheric music that fits the game perfectly. It also saves your progress every time you close out of the app with a handy autosave feature that returns you to exactly where you left off the next time you play, though a manual save feature would have also been useful.
While it's hard not to admire the ambition that went into creating Ravensword, it's also just as hard not to wish the game didn't have the issues it does. In any case, if you're a fan of Western-style RPGs along the lines of Morrowind and Oblivion, you should be able to enjoy the game for what it is--a sprawling adventure that fits right in your pocket.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.