Infinity Bladiest

If your first reaction to another Infinity Blade is “really? again?,” you’re not alone. I too was a doubting Thomas. As nice as it is to see a franchise doing well, I’m also a fan of letting a developer stretch their legs, so to speak. As a fan of Chair’s earlier game Shadow Complex, as well as a gamer whose heart broke at the cancellation of Infinity Blade Dungeons, my interest in seeing them go to the same well again was lukewarm at best.

And then I played it.

Infinity Blade III

Infinity Blade III is a lot like that worn blanket you’ll never get rid of. It’s familiar, but never tired – and it’s all too easy to get yourself wrapped up. And like that worn blanket, you’ll never want to put it down.

The gameplay doesn’t deviate from what’s tried-and-true for the series, and it doesn’t need to. Players will still parry, block and dodge with a series of swipes and taps; ever looking for that opening to land a strike on a seemingly never-ending march of titans. Where Infinity Blade III kicks things up a notch is in its narrative, as well as in its out-of-play frippery.

Where the first game felt very narrative-optional, Infinity Blade II really cemented the importance of story in the future of the franchise. Infinity Blade III takes this to a new level, bringing the trilogy to a close while delivering the tightest storytelling yet. It’s not Shakespeare – heck, it’s barely Schwarzenegger – but there’s enough here that the world and its characters have no problem holding your interest. If anything, Infinity Blade III has left me wanting to go back and read the novellas Infinity Blade: Awakening and Infinity Blade: Redemption.

When a video game leaves you interested enough that you actually want to read its tie-in fiction, that’s a victory in itself.

Infinity Blade III

Outside of story, the main additions this time around are a second playable character, a host of upgrade shops, and a great big dragon that occasionally pops out of the sky to surprise you.

Isa, first introduced as a non-playable character in Infinity Blade II, now joins Siris in his quest to end the tyranny of The Worker. For the most part, Siris and Isa will have different stages to complete, giving players fresh content rather than recycling environments or simply giving players the choice of tackling the game with one or the other. Both characters are integral to the story, and get an equal amount of time in players’ hands.

As Infinity Blade has always been a game about mastering weapons and equipment, Chair has wisely made it so that some gear will be available to Isa and some to Siris, with no weapons or equipment overlapping (save for potions and gems). This gives players the chance to level the characters up independent of each other. This time around, leveling up has a different perk, too – you’ll get to choose a variety of skills that will do everything from provide new combat options to making certain boxes unlockable without the need for a key.

Once a weapon or piece of gear is mastered, that’s not necessarily the end of the road for said equipment. As you progress through the story you’ll unlock different merchants: a gem cutter, a potion master, and a blacksmith – the last of which can upgrade your mastered items… for a price.

Infinity Blade III

“For a price” seems like a scary term in mobile games nowadays, especially if you’re remiss to make in-app purchases. Fortunately Infinity Blade III is very generous with both its common and premium currency, never requiring you to make a purchase beyond the initial $6.99 (the price at launch) you spent to download the game.

Having said that, I admittedly made two separate 99 cent purchases of gold during my journey to the end, because I’m always going to be a sucker for a great big sword.

The game looks gorgeous too, though that should hardly be a surprise. Infinity Blade has always been the series to show off what Apple’s hardware can do, and considering the game was revealed alongside the iPhone 5S (and it’s the first game to support the 5S’ 64-bit architecture), anything short of jaw-dropping would have been a crushing defeat.

While Infinity Blade III doesn’t break any significantly fresh ground, it manages to refine everything that we’ve loved about the series to absolute perfection. As the end of a trilogy, I could think of no better way to close things out.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what Chair Entertainment cooks up next.