The world of Dawnbringer is sometimes a lonely place to be. There’s always something to do, but the big open spaces do tend to get a bit repetitive after a while. The game mixes together aspects from Zelda and Infinity Blade to create a mobile-focused third person action adventure that has a few interesting ideas wrapped around its familiar framework.
But the end result feels a little sparse, a little empty, and with too much emphasis on grind over exploration and slog over interesting combat mechanics.
You play as a fallen knight who sets out to bring balance to a world being ripped apart by demons. There’s a story bubbling on underneath everything, but it moves at an almost glacial pace and, to be honest, it’s not that interesting to begin with.
The game is split into a series of quests, each of which reveals a little more of the world you’re trying to save. The quests in turn are split up into little sections, with small objectives to complete, usually ending in a battle against a boss.
When you’re exploring the world, the controls are decidedly simple. Rather than moving with a floating stick, you just tap to start running. Swiping a finger around while you’re trotting about changes the direction you’re heading in. You can tap on glowing objects to interact with them. That usually involves smashing them if they’re urns, or opening them if they’re chests. Waypoints on your HUD show you where you should be heading next. Or at least they do most of the time.
The other part of the game involves fighting demons. When you walk into the ring surrounding a monster, the game fixes your feet to the ground and you get to engage in a bit of sword play. But again this aspect lacks spark. It has its moments, and there are times when your frantically swipes make you feel like you’re really engaged in a fight to the death, but really they’re too few and far between.
When you’re fighting, all you’re doing is swiping on the screen. Swipe from left to right to attack in that direction and so on. There’s no blocking or dodging like there are in other examples of the genre.
Instead, there’s a parry system. If you time an attack correctly, using the opposite direction to your opponent, then you’ll deflect their advances. There’s no stun system though; instead you get a brief window between onslaughts to launch your own attacks. Spend too long attacking, or time one of your parries wrong, and you’ll lose a chunk of your health bar. Against the smaller enemies that’s not too much of a problem, but bosses often have staggeringly large numbers of hit points, and can kill you in four or five hits.
Don’t get me wrong, there is fun to be had here. The game looks lovely, it doesn’t hold your hand too much, and some of the creature design is incredibly impressive. The problem is that things never really progress past the initial stages. Sure, you’ll toughen up your gear and face more difficult enemies, but there’s no real evolution. Tap to move, swipe to attack, rinse and repeat.
Dawnbringer definitely has some big aspirations, but it doesn’t manage to live up to its inspirations. It’s still an enjoyable free to play romp, and there’s more depth to it than some games you’ll find on the App Store, but there are definitely better examples of the genre out there.