ENYO (Free) by Arnold Rauers is a tactical turn-based roguelike game that’s all about hook and shield combat with a Greek theme. If you enjoyed titles like Sproggiwood and The Nightmare Cooperative, then you may like what ENYO brings to the table. It’s not a perfect game, but there’s a lot of potential with this one.
If you’ve paid any attention to the gaming industry in the past several years, then you will have noticed that roguelike games have enjoyed a big uptick in popularity. I’m not sure why others love them, but I enjoy roguelikes because they’re usually RPGs, have interesting game mechanics, and are just downright challenging — it’s fun to watch your progress in the game over time as you try and improve with each attempt. So no matter how many roguelikes there are in the App Store now, I just have to check them out for myself. And when the news of ENYO hit my inbox, I was intrigued, as this game is from the same developer behind Card Crawl, an excellent roguelike dungeon-crawling card game hybrid, which I truly loved. While ENYO doesn’t exactly match up to the great Card Crawl, it’s still a fun little time waster.
Visually, ENYO looks fantastic due to the unique Greek-style art. If you’ve ever delved into the world of Greek mythology, then these flat, black-silhouette-like figures that represent Enyo (Goddess of War) and her enemies will look familiar to you. The character sprites give nice contrast as they stand out against the light beige floor and dark brown walls. Spiked walls and lava are easily distinguishable from the safe zones, and the chosen typography gives the game a legend-in-the-making feel. While the layout of the floors don’t seem to have too much detail, I did like how Enyo and the various enemy types have plenty of finer details packed into their models, such as their eyes, weapons, and different stances. The animations are pretty fluid, though I felt that movement was a bit choppy because of the rigidness of the characters. The soundtrack is fun to listen to, especially if you’re into rhythmic drum beats, and the sound effects are a nice finishing touch.
Since ENYO is a roguelike game, there is only one main game mode, but two levels of difficulty that you can choose from, depending on your skill level. There’s also a Daily Challenge each day if you want to see how high of a score you can get on the set stage before it changes the next day, but this is only available through the upgrade in-app purchase. Regardless, before you are able to fully dive in to the game, there will be a tutorial that shows you how to play. It’s necessary to pay attention to it, because this is not like most other roguelike RPGs that you’ve tried.
In ENYO, you’ll have to help guide Enyo through a morphing labyrinth (procedurally generated) in order to find three legendary artifacts. The goal is to clear each floor of enemies through indirect combat. What this means is that enemies can only be defeated by pushing or pulling them into the lava pits and spiked walls, and if you’re next to them taking hits, you can’t do much about it. You’ll see your hearts in the top left corner, which indicate how many hits you can take before you die. The skulls underneath your hearts represent the number of enemies you’ve killed (white is a point), and that is tallied up after every three moves for your score. When you run out of hearts, the run ends and you’ll have to try again.
The controls in ENYO are a bit different and take time to get used to, since it is indirect tactical combat. Enyo can do four different actions, as shown by the buttons along the bottom: Shield Bash, Hook, Throw, and Stun Leap. In order to move, you’ll have to have Shield Bash selected, and then drag your finger from Enyo to the direction you want to go. You can move multiple spaces at once, but only one direction at a time. This is also the way you’ll bash into enemies and push them into lava pits or spiked walls. The Hook will pull enemies towards you, and it’s best to use this when there’s a lava pit at some point between you and the enemy. Throw lets you throw your shield to push foes, and Stun Leap lets you perform a leap that will stun adjacent enemies. After you perform some kind of action, the enemies move one square at a time.
The key to victory are clever maneuvers that can help you get great chain combos, but it’s harder than it looks. It’s important to take note on how each enemy moves and what they’re capable of. By noticing how they tend to move, you can strategize a plan to outsmart them and get them in the lava or spikes without getting hit yourself. And some foes are able to avoid certain obstacles, like the flying bird-like creatures, so you’ll have to use the hook or throw your shield at them to get them into spikes.
After you die, you’ll see a screen that shows you how you lost, as well as a board of the other ways you’ve died in the past and how many times it happened. It’s a fun thing to look back on, and you can tweet your run results if you want to share your progress. But I was a bit disappointed that there is no super quick way to just restart in the selected difficulty, as you’ll have to exit out of that results screen, go back to the main menu, and select the difficulty again. I think there should just be an instant restart button after a game ends so less time is wasted.
Since ENYO is a free game, there are occasional video ads that pop up between rounds and it will even prompt you before you start a game at times. The daily challenge mode is also available only after you unlock the full game and remove ads, which will cost $1.99.
As a fan of roguelike games, I’m enjoying ENYO so far, but I do think that it is lacking in variety at the moment. While each level of the dungeon is procedurally generated, there just doesn’t feel like there are enough different enemy types and hazards to deal with, so gameplay can get a bit repetitive. The controls also felt a bit clunky to me, as you have to have your finger on Enyo and trace the path you want to take, rather than just swiping anywhere on the screen to initiate movement or action with a weapon. While the graphics and sound are pleasing, the rest of the game is more like a diamond-in-the-rough.
Even though I’m a big fan of Card Crawl, I found ENYO to be slightly disappointing in terms of content and controls. If you don’t mind ads and less-than-optimal controls, then ENYO is worth a look, especially since it’s free. But I think holding off until it’s more polished is a better choice.
ENYO is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for free. There is an in-app purchase of $1.99 to “unlock” ENYO’s Daily Mode and remove ads.