Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden tries really hard to do Zelda on the iPhone, but Gameloft isn’t Nintendo

By this point, we’ve all come to expect Gameloft’s bigger games to pay homage to big-name console titles with their storylines, and Sacred Odyssey: The Rise of Ayden is no exception. The story is clearly based on the Legend of Zelda games, and it’s not even afraid to admit it: Ayden’s horses are named Miya and Moto (a nod to Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto). Overall it’s not a bad clone, but the publisher should have spent a little more time trying to copy the quality of the popular Nintendo games, too.

The plot focuses on Ayden, a muscular farmhand whose life is changed one day when he winds up rescuing a princess from some orcs who are harassing her. After he brings her home, she charges him with saving the world. So he goes out, meets a talking tree, and gets some mystic upgrades that will… well, you know where this is going.

 Rise of Ayden

Things start off a little slow thanks to the obligatory intro/tutorial. Anyone who’s played a third-person adventure/RPG will feel right at home. The interface will feel especially familiar to anyone who’s played a title produced by Gameloft. There’s the virtual joystick, the attack and defense buttons, and a button that lets Ayden mount his horse at the drop of a hat.

Combat is pretty easy. Button-mashing is rewarded, and Ayden will switch directions to meet the nearest enemy on the fly, which is rather nice. The game also features a ton of environmental puzzles which are never overly difficult, but they help to provide a little variety when it comes to gameplay.

When riding, players can engage in mounted combat. There’s also a sprint button that provides a quick burst of speed and the ability to burst through roadblocks. Being able to switch movement modes is a nice touch here, mainly because the game’s world is so large that it would take forever to run across. It should be noted that pathfinding is sometimes a pain to deal with, thanks in large part to the invisible walls that pepper maps and Ayden’s inability to jump.

Sacred Odyssey’s world is pretty epic in scope, and it features some massive dungeons to crawl through. As iPhone games go, there’s a lot of content to sift through thanks to the various side quests and massive maps; there’s at least a dozen hours or so.

Visually, the game starts out really impressive. At times the title looks like it’s running World of Warcraft-quality graphics. This is most often the case when Ayden rides around the open world on one of his steeds. However, indoor environments sometimes feature muddy textures or a glaring lack of detail.

 Rise of Ayden

But, oh, what a world there is to explore! It’s bright and brilliant and filled with wondrous sights. This is a lovely game on the iPhone. Of course, there are still some issues, aside from the occasional texture issues. Actions like climbing ladders results or opening treasure chests can result in some pretty awful animation, too.

The other issue that regularly rears its ugly head is how the auto camera will sometimes flip angles without warning, which will often cause players to switch direction. There were two different instances where this issue caused Ayden to reverse direction in an infinite loop.

The game’s music is the generic fantasy fare, quiet and unobtrusive when players explore the game world. However, if that doesn’t sound preferable, there’s also the option to play music from one’s library. What’s really impressive, though, is the fact that a lot of characters players talk to have a voice. Of course, the voice acting is a bit hit-or miss, but it’s still a pretty cool feat the folks at Gameloft managed to pull off.

So, in a nutshell, Sacred Odyssey is a fun third-person action/RPG that isn’t as original as it’d like players to think it is. It’s got some kinks that need to be ironed out, but it’s definitely something that most action RPG fans will like while it remains simple enough to appeal to genre newcomers. The basic version is free, which means players can use this as a demo and can then buy the full version from within the game.