Thursday, June 13, 2013

9th Dawn [Valorware + Made With Marmalade] - $2.99

It’s kind of surprising that as popular and loved as Ultima is, that there’s not more iOS games influenced by this genre defining old-school RPG. However this does make finding one all the more special. This is something we’ve just recently had the pleasure of experiencing while diving into Valorware’s 9th Dawn, published by Made With Marmalade. And while some players have already completed the game, others are finding out that taking your time and exploring every single nook and cranny within the game is an incredibly rewarding experience. Especially since the world is so vast and is a complete joy to roam around in.

9th Dawn gives you the option of playing with 1 of 3 classes; Knight, Archer or Mage, each having drastically different ways of playing as well as different quests, different NPC interactions and loads of loot for all 3. The knight has heavy armor and strong attacks but is pretty slow and pretty inept when it comes to magic. The archer is great for quick movement and medium range attacks while the mage is pretty week when it comes to defense but can dish out a whole slew of magical spells and abilities and is probably the one character with the most depth when it comes to the customization of spells and stats, as well as the most difficult to complete the game with. 

Starting off, you awake on the continent of Montelorne with no idea how you got there or where to go. Luckily, there’s an NPC right outside of where you wake up and he gives you some basic directions as well as warnings. Then off you go to explore the world, learn about the lay of the land, the empires, the characters, what makes everyone tick, ect. The one thing that wasn’t really explained too well in the beginning was how to interact with objects. When it comes to characters, a hand icon usually appears right above your attack stick which you can tap to talk to them but, as you’ll soon find out, this icon does not always appear. Going into the first shops, you can’t get close enough to the shopkeepers to trigger the hand icon from appearing and here is where you’ll either figure out on your own, or just avoid the shops for now, that you can tap directly on the NPCs to interact with them. The same goes for everything else in the world of 9th Dawn. Tapping on barrels, enemy’s dropped items/silver, buckets, chests, ect, all of these can be tapped on while some of these things, like dropped items and silver, will trigger the hand icon above your attack button, but that’s about it. I wound up dying 4 times before finding out that I could search through barrels for loot and items because of this. 

But once all of that becomes apparent, the gameplay really opens up and 9th Dawn turns into the huge, exciting, exploration RPG beast that it’s meant to be. The controls are flawless, using dual sticks for movement and attacking in 360 degree fashion is a huge plus, giving you great control over what your character does and how he does it. The attacking stick can take a little fiddling around to get comfortable with if you’re using the Mage or Archer, as you’ll need to pull the stick in the opposite direction of your enemy. After getting use to it, it does play very nicely but if you’re still having troubles with it, you can switch this in the options menu so that your character fires in the same direction of your stick movement as well. You can also enable aim assist if you’re still having troubles, which is a nice little addition. There are also options for ‘tablet mode’, ‘large thumb pads’, ‘floating stick’ and you can re-position the sticks as well, which makes the gameplay comfortable on any device no matter how you might hold it. 

This, combined with the depth of customization makes for one hell of a gameplay experience. Leveling up, like most RPGs, is done by defeating enemies. Once you level up, you're awarded 5 stat points which you can distribute how you see fit to either Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence or Wisdom. You'll also unlock more skills and spells as you level up and progress throughout the game. Being able to assign these to hotslots at either the bottom of the screen, or 'fold-out' slots above the attack stick allows for quick integration of skills and items to the heat of the action while in the midst of gameplay. It all really comes together quite nicely with a fluid and easy to navigate user interface. Quests can also be called up from your Quest Log, found in your inventory, which can also be assigned to a quick-slot for easy reference. 

Aside from the slight tutorial issue, 9th Dawn has been a pure joy to play. There’s always a new place to explore and the graphics and gameplay will take you back to the days of playing Ultima while reminding you how much gaming has grown with the super smooth animations, gameplay and huge open world. Priced at $2.99, 9th Dawn is a steal, especially considering how much gameplay you’ll get out of it and how enjoyable your gameplay experience will be. The few issues I might have with the game are extremely easy to overlook when presented with so much greatness. And considering this is only version 1.0.0, there’s plenty of hope that the game will only get better. If you’re a fan of the genre, I really can’t recommend this one enough, and even if you’re not, 9th Dawn might just make you a fan. 


We did originally state that there was no quest log. Thankfully, PSJ3809 over at TouchArcade clued us in as to where the Questlog could be found. We apologize for any mis-understanding. 


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