Sword Of Xolan ($0.99) by ALPER SARIKAYA is a retro action platformer that should appeal to any fans of the genre. If you enjoyed games like Goblin Sword or Devious Dungeon 2, then you will like Sword of Xolan.
When I grew up, I didn’t have the fancy consoles that kids nowadays have. Instead, I got to experience the simple pleasures of having those retro consoles that only had 8-bit or 16-bit graphics, which were amazing at the time. While we’ve come a long way since then, it seems that everyone loves pixel art, which is apparent with the constant new releases that feature it. And people still love a challenging action platformer game, so it only makes sense to combine the two — they’re like a match made in heaven. When I first heard of Sword of Xolan, I knew I had to have the game in my hands, and fortunately it does not disappoint.
The visuals in the game are fantastic, and will definitely take you back if you grew up with pixelated games like I did. The environments in Sword of Xolan are rich, lush, and full of detail, despite the pixel art style. Character animations are smooth and fluid, and each sprite is rendered nicely with small characteristics that stand out from a distance. Even all of the enemies have their own distinctive looks, movement patterns, and attack behaviors that you’ll have to learn and master to defeat. The adventurous soundtrack is soothing and gets you pumped up for adventure. Xolan’s dialogue that you’ll hear throughout the game when grabbing power-ups does get a little annoying (at least for me), though, so be warned.
Sword of Xolan features two game modes: Adventure and Challenge. The Adventure is the story campaign that is split up into three different Acts that have 10 levels each and a boss fight at the end. The main goal is to find and rescue all of the captured villagers by freeing them from their cages and then getting to the endpoint. Challenge levels are unlocked after you save a certain number of villagers in Adventure. In Challenge, players get presented with a different objective, and must complete it as fast as they can to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. This is great for those who like to do speedruns of games, as it puts your skills to the test.
The controls in the game are fairly straightforward and work well enough, though there is room for customization if you’re not happy with the button positioning. In the bottom left are the two buttons for controlling horizontal movement. The bottom right has three buttons for jumping (double tap for double jump), attacking with your sword, and casting a fireball to blast opponents, as long as you have mana. You can also swipe down on the screen to drop down from a platform, and make sure to hug walls to see if there’s any hidden passageways. The first level in Adventure explains all that you need to know about how to move and attack.
In the top left corner, you’ll see how many hearts you have. You start out with three and if you lose them all, you’ll die and have to restart the level. Underneath will be three blue dots, which is Xolan’s mana. One dot means one fireball, and you’ll have to collect blue potions to refill it if empty. You can also collect hearts to refill your health, but in the beginning of the game, these are few and far between, so you’ll need to be careful.
In Sword of Xolan, you will want to collect the coins that are dropped by enemies, breaking objects, and opening those large treasure chests. With these coins, players can purchase 10 unique “game cards” for Xolan, which improve his skill. The cards will be upside down when you are purchasing them, so the result will be a surprise. However, they are pretty pricy at 1500 coins each, so you’d better save up! Fortunately, you can always go back and replay a level to get more coins, as well as rescue any villagers you may have left behind.
There is Game Center integration but only for 19 achievements. I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t leaderboards for the nine different Challenge levels, as this would have been a great opportunity to compete with friends for best completion times. Hopefully the developer can consider adding this in the future.
So far, after spending a bit of time with the game this week, I’m loving it. The visuals are a nice throwback to the golden days of gaming, and the original soundtrack is amazing to listen to. Controls are decent, but the ability to customize positioning is a must and should fix any issues you may have. The storyline isn’t groundbreaking, but the gameplay itself is fun and challenging. I just hope that Xolan’s dialogue is cut down a bit in the future and want to see Game Center leaderboards for the challenge levels.
I recommend giving Sword of Xolan a try if you’re a fan of retro action platformer games. You can find Sword of Xolan on the App Store as a universal download for $0.99.