Slayin ($0.99) by FDG Entertainment is an arena-style arcade RPG that reminds me quite a lot of Spellsword. As with most games in the App Store these days, it uses retro pixellated graphics, which work well for the genre.
It’s an endless killing game rather than an endless runner, so the idea is to walk back and forth on the screen slaughtering enemy after enemy. Your character (a knight – the others are unlocked later) has his sword drawn and will automatically kill the monsters that he walks into.
Since the killing is automatic, all you’re controlling is the defense and the movement. You move with the two giant arrows on the left side of the screen and jump with the button on the right side of the screen.
These controls are designed to look like an old school Nintendo controller, which is a bit gimmicky but doesn’t interfere with the gameplay. For the most part, the controls are solid, but I did have a minor complaint about the placement of the jump button on the iPad. It is slightly too far to the center of the screen, which makes it tough for those with small hands (aka yours truly) to reach.
Enemies will spawn continuously. As you slaughter them, you will rack up experience points that translate into levels, coins, and other small treasures. You level up after a small number of enemies, and as you level, the monsters that you face will get more challenging.
Monsters have a range of abilities. Some are mere ground huggers, but others take to the air and must be dealt with by jumping. There are even monsters that will shoot projectiles or try to crush you, which keeps the gameplay dynamic.
In addition to rewarding you with experience, monsters drop coins. Occasionally, a shopkeeper will appear where you can buy both weapon and armor upgrades, along with small amounts of health. Weapons have simple features like range increases.
At the end of 10 levels you will fight a boss, which has special abilities that usually involve both timing and jumping. Bosses are not difficult, but they will get harder as you progress. When the boss is defeated, you move on to a new area.
As this is an arcade-style game, you only get one life. When your health bar is depleted, the game will end, and you will start from the beginning again.
Slayin does incorporate “fame points,” which are rewarded each time your character dies. Fame points can be used to unlock new characters, change the look of the controls, or to customize gravestones. The gravestones are used to commemorate your high scores and you and your friends can access a shared graveyard. Fame points come at a quick rate, but unlocking new characters, such as the mage, seemed overly expensive.
There are two additional game modes (advanced and boss rush) to unlock along with quests and Game Center achievements. All of these options give you goals to strive for.
As with all arena games, Slayin has a tendency to get repetitive. Boss fights serve to break up the gameplay and the range of enemies also helps to keep you on your toes, but don’t expect to be able to play this game for hours on end without growing bored. Though it has a few shortcomings, Slayin is, in a nutshell, a fantastic arcade game that is well worth the $0.99 investment.