Developer: Moving Player
iTunes Rating: 9+
Release date: Available now
Review by: Matthew Booth
Yslandia isn’t your typical iPhone game. Sure, it features plenty of cutesy characters, comical dialogue, and the graphics pay homage to almost every fantasy based game before it, but the sheer amount of options and quests are almost too much for my 3G iPhone to handle (if I only had a dollar for every time Yslandia crashed my phone). But minor technical glitches and outdated hardware aside, it’s one of those rare mobile games where the passion of the developer is apparent throughout the gameplay experience. Featuring 6 character races with 3 classes each, 70 different magic spells, 400 usable items, and a world that is large enough to fatigue your tapping finger, Yslandia earns its five dollar sticker price.
The back-story is a smorgasbord of mythology, Eastern religions, classic good-versus-evil conflict, and every cliche fantasy plot imaginable. The basic premise, however, is simple. Mélèh, the creator, formed six elements out of nothing, and those elements combined in harmony to form the world of Yslandia. Darkness became jealous of Earth, and caused a rift that divided the elements against each other, resulting in two alliances, one evil and one good. The elements then created different races bent on either destruction or restoring peace. The result was perpetual war and conflict.
First, Yslandia requires a unique Yslandia account (based on a valid email account). Once you get the account set-up out of the way, you get to choose your race and class. Each have its own advantages, but you can maintain three separate characters to explore your options. Gameplay is based on completing quests that range from running errands to attacking enemies, and moving is accomplished by tapping on a location on the screen. Once you’ve reached the desired location, an icon in the lower right corner will let you know what options are available. Typical options are talk, buy, attack, access world map, and enter establishment or building. A nifty feature is the ability to create shortcuts to special attacks, spells and items, which will come in handy during battles where accessing your character menu does not pause gameplay. Yes, I died while accessing my character menu, several times. I’m pretty sure the Boings are programmed to attack, as a horde, the moment you enter your character menu. Leveling your character is based on experience points, so if you’ve even a little RPG experience character leveling and management should be both familiar and intuitive. For those of us that actually have friends, you can also create a guild and fight together while combining experience and skills. Yslandia includes all of the features of larger scale MMORPGs, though scaled down for a mobile device.
Yslandia does suffer from some significant server lag when playing on the US servers, and it can be taxing on your iDevice, especially if you are using the older models. It can be frustrating to swing your sword, only to see damage points accrue several seconds after you tapped the attack icon.
The quests, graphics and gameplay remind me of all my favorite RPGs, but unlike other mobile titles within the genre, a lot of time was put into the digital illustrations, sprites and motion graphics. Another reason this game felt more “playable” than others is that a lot of the mechanics employ more than one way to execute an action. I’m not a huge fan of virtual thumbsticks so it was nice to have the option to tap-move, but you can still use a virtual thumbstick if desired.
There is no trial version for Yslandia, but if you are a fan of RPGs, buy this game. This is a title you’ll want to play, even if you’re at home with other gaming options at your disposal. It won’t be five dollars you regret spending.