Sawbuck Gamer

Ark Of The Ages

Hack And Swipe

Ark Of The Ages boils dungeon crawling down to its basics.

By Samantha Nelson • April 12, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

No matter how many cool abilities or gear options you have, most dungeon-crawler games boil down to the same routine: walking through dark halls, fighting monsters, and gathering treasure. While it offers some nice art, XSEED Games’ Ark Of The Ages puts little other ornamentation on these basics. You’re given a bunch of quests to kill or fetch things, and you aim to complete them by wandering the dungeon.

Combat is stripped down to its essentials. You attack an enemy by hurriedly swiping your finger across its image. You block by holding two fingers on the screen when an enemy telegraphs that it’s about to bash you. You have a special attack that deals a ton of damage at the expense of some of your health. That’s about it. There are some items you can use for a quick heal or burst of invulnerability, but you’re better off neglecting these and spending your in-game currency to upgrade your gear, as you can go for long periods of time without finding anything useful in the treasure chests that dot each level. Frustratingly, your hacking and slashing will too often be interrupted by long walks out of the dungeon so you can turn in quests, recover your health, fix your gear and save your progress unless you want to spend real money to buy a teleport out. But then, annoying repetition is often part of the core dungeon crawler experience too.

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9 Responses to “Hack And Swipe”

  1. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    That Icicle Golem makes me really sad.  It looks like the product of an afternoon’s listless experimentation with Photoshop’s 3D presets -then colored blue in hopes of evoking ice.
       Best to destroy it and put it out of it’s misery, I guess.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Yeah, looks more like a “Marble Column Golem”.

    • John Teti says:

      About a month ago there was an interview on Kotaku where Richard Garriott, according to the headline, talked about his intention to “revolutionize” role-playing games. Intrigued by this talk of revolution, I scrolled down and looked at the preview screenshots of the game.


      It all makes old Cylinder Arms up there look positively fresh.

      • Steve McCoy says:

        That game’s still really early in development. They’ve even started marking the graphics for previews because there was backlash from people who thought the footage was exactly what the released game would look like. That said, I’m sure there will be skeletons in the final version, but that’s not a big deal; whenever Garriot & crew talk up the game, they’re always talking about what they want the gameplay to be.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Holy god.  That is a dry piece of toast.  To design a giant spider and sewer-level infused fantasy world this generic almost has to be a deliberate venture.
           Even Gameloft accidentally slips an original design idea into their games once in a while.
           But then again, these are just screenshots.  Maybe there are some really revolutionary ideas behind the game.
           Maybe wooden shields are stronger than iron shields in this one.

    • Django Zeaman says:

      I can make cylinders!!!

  2. Ben Dunbar says:

    Infinity Blade is the pinnacle of this mobile gamining genre. THE PINNACLE I SAY. It’s sequel is pretty good too.

  3. craigward says:

    “a key!  you know what that means”
    “we have to go back?”
    “we don’t HAVE to go back, we GET to”

    “that didn’t take that long, and now we get treasure… nope, this key is for something else”