iPhone Review: Helsing’s Fire

Written by Joe Martin

July 27, 2010 | 09:28

Tags: #ipad #iphone-games #iphone-review #puzzle

Companies: #apple

Egads! London has been invaded by monsters, who skulk through the shadowy, smoggy streets in search of fair maidens to devour. All that stands in their way is vampire hunter Van Helsing (and his man-servant, Raffton), who much push back this blight with naught but a handful of torches and a few monster-slaying tonics.

From the pitch you’d expect Helsing’s Fire to be just another clumsy action game, but it’s actually a rather gentle puzzle game played from the top-down perspective. The aim of the game is still to purge London of monsters, but it’s done with brains rather than brawn.

As with most puzzle games the gameplay is fairly straightforward at first, but quickly escalates as nuances and complications are layered on top of the core rules. To start with it’s merely a matter of positioning your flaming torch so that you cast rays of light on as many monsters as possible, then using colour-coded tonics to destroy them utterly. Later levels introduce more complicated elements though – shielded foes, fair maidens who must be protected and skellingtons who’ll extinguish your torch should you get too close.
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iPhone Review: Helsing’s Fire  Iphone Review: Helsing’s Fire iPhone Review: Helsing’s Fire  Iphone Review: Helsing’s Fire
Bring me some gin for this tonic!

What really sells the game and makes it so enjoyable though isn’t so much the mechanics of the game, but the style which pulls it all together. Van Helsing and Raffton’s calm, classic speech contrasts brilliantly with the fist-bumps and high fives they celebrate cleared levels with, for example. The simple, stylised graphical style makes Helsing’s Fire instantly endearing too, especially when Raffton offers quips to expertly dispatched baddies – “Crumble, foe!

Helsing’s Fire is far from perfect though; the core campaign is expansive, sure, but it’s clearly padded out more than it needs to be. The difficulty curve is so relaxed that it’s sometime hard to tell whether it’s climbing or falling, meaning that the first few stages sometimes struggle to hold your attention – especially since it takes a good thirty or so levels before you unlock Survival Mode.

Ignoring the overall ease though, there’s no denying that Helsing’s Fire is one of the most humorous and pleasant puzzlers on the AppStore. It doesn’t have the moreish-ness of something like Bejewelled, but it’s still a great time filler.

Verdict: A bit slow on the whole, Helsing’s Fire’s main strength is the humour and art-style rather than the core gameplay – but it’s still not a title to be sniffed at considering the low price.

Helsing's Fire is available for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Get it from the AppStore for 59p / 99c.
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