Friday, February 8, 2013

Mauv [Forge Vault] - $1.99

There’s not a whole lot of Action/Adventure games that completely consume my free time. Pretty sure I can count the number of iOS titles in the genre on one hand (Shadowgun, Samurai II, Dead Space, Waking Mars… that’s about it). But over the last week or so, I’ve gotten sucked into another title. Now, with all of the nods to Metroid and Zelda, it’s no real surprise that it’s sucked me in, but keeping me playing is something only the game’s originality and story could have done. The game? Mauv, developed by Forge Vault. 

First off, let’s set things straight. Unlike quite a few iOS titles, Mauv doesn’t directly steal mechanics or gameplay from Metroid or Zelda, but while playing, it’s clearly apparent that they were inspirations for the developers somewhere down the line. It’s a fairly deep sci-fi adventure title that merges both top-down type sections as well as side-scrolling areas together in one huge explorable world. It might sound like something that would just drive some people crazy, but as you progress throughout the game, the mix of Metroid style exploratory platform action and Zeldaesque exploratory adventure filled with plenty of side-quests as well as a main story, leveling up, blocked off areas that require special abilities to cross into and much, much more, the changes between side-scrolling and top-down areas will start to seem natural, and perfectly fit into the gameplay as another feature that makes Mauv all the better. 

Starting the game off, you’re given a short intro; A long time ago, Gorm seized control of the Magna Spyre. In response, the Kingdom of Yora called for warriors to take out the enemy and regain control of the Magna Sypre. You‘re on a quest to become one of the strongest warriors in Yora, and head off to jump on the airboat heading into battle. However, in the beginning of the game, you’re basically helpless. You’re given 3 rechargeable action points which you can use to perform rolls and break open crates and bushes. You‘re also able to use your wings to glide. But once you start to progress into the game, you’ll be given a weapon and further along, you’ll be able to get a shield and other items that will allow you to progress into different areas and just become a real pain for the enemy to deal with in general. 

Control-wise, you’re given a joystick for movement and buttons on the right side of the screen for actions. Your action button changes depending on what type of section you’re in (top-down or side-scrolling) and can either cause you to roll or jump. Gliding is done by tapping the action button while you’re already in the air and will keep you going in the same direction as when you press it (ie; pressing it when you’re still in the upwards swing of your jump will cause you to glide slightly upwards, pressing it when you’re at the very top of your jump will cause you to glide forward and slightly downwards and gliding when you’re coming down from your jump will pretty much send you straight into the ground). You’ll also use the action button to talk to all of the NPCs around the world. Your action button is placed in the middle of the buttons that will pop up as you gather equipment. You’re also given a button to fire your weapon and another for your shield. The buttons are static and are not customizable, which does kind of make playing on the iPad a bit uncomfortable as the buttons are a little further inside the screen than what I’d personally like. It doesn’t make the game unplayable, and is nowhere near bad enough to keep me from playing, but it would be nice if we could move the buttons around, or they were placed more appropriately on the larger iPad screen. On the iPhone, the buttons are decently placed (though maybe a bit high) and fairly comfortable. One thing that did bother me at first was the fact that you’re unable to fire your weapon while you’re in the air. This means that you can not jump and shoot your weapon. I’m not too entirely sure if it would even make much of a difference if you could, but it did take a while to get use to. 

Now, in order to fire your weapon, you will need to collect magna. Each shot that you shoot requires 3 magna. Luckily, there is magna scattered everywhere, and you should never be at a loss. However, if you ever are, you can leave an area and re-enter it with all of the collected magna available for collection again. You also do not need to kill enemies in order to progress throughout the game, but killing enemies does earn you experience which you will need if you want to level up. You’ll also be able to collect hides and trophies from enemies that can be exchanged for items (like boots that allow you to walk through sludge without slowing down, and other accessories) and more magna. Leveling up does not have any effect on your stats like attack, or action points, but it does increase your hit points which will definitely come in handy later on in the game. 

The graphics are well done, especially the background environments and the whole foggy look throughout the game. Unfortunately, there’s not much change in the environments which does make the world seem like one huge level. I don’t really consider this a bad thing. There are enough changes  in the plant life and other minor aspects of the environment to give different areas subtle differences and put together with the various enemies that you’ll encounter do help to make it not get boring or feel ‘samey’ throughout the entire game. The animations do feel a bit stiff, but this doesn’t take much away from the immersion of the game. There are a few graphical things that stick out, like the plant life and objects in the background, that do give the game a great feeling. On top of that, the BGM is also very well done and fitting for the gameplay. 

Even with the minor grammatical errors, lack of GameCenter achievements and kind of slow start, when you consider how incredibly huge the world is, especially if you’re interested in exploring and completing the side-quests, how much love and care was clearly put into the development, Mauv being Universal and just how much fun it is to play, the price point of $1.99 is a very good deal. Mauv also supports the iPhone/iPod 5’s widescreen, which is a huge plus. As I said, there’s not many Action/Adventure titles on the iOS that have completely won me over, but Mauv is definitely one of them. Fans of Zelda and Metroid should feel pretty much at home while playing, and even if you’re not really fans of either of those, if you’re into exploration and adventure games, Mauv contains a huge world to check out. There is also a lite version if you’re interested in seeing what the game plays like before making a purchase, but you should keep in mind that as you make your way in to the real meat of the game that it gets a whole lot better. This is one Adventure title that I have no problem whole heartedly recommending. 


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