Goblin Sword is a game on the iPad in which you play as a small blue haired person who fights various otherworldly creatures in an attempt to rid your realm of their nefarious presence. While I've been willfully avoiding real life for a few days, playing Goblin Sword has been my primary activity. I thought it might be fun to review it.
The gameplay mechanics of Goblin Sword are simple and satisfying. You can jump, move left and right, and swing a variety of weapons you collect as you advance through the game. In random clay pots throughout the game's many levels, you can find small glowing orb things that let you access your weapon's special abilities for a limited time. These special abilities help you kill the weird shit you encounter, like the pig knights for example, which are literally pigs dressed in medieval armor and are a big pain in the ass.
Your primary objective in each level is simply to reach the end of it. There are however, other tasks for you to complete. Chief among these additional tasks are 1) finding two treasure chests and 2) three blue crystals in each level. The treasure chests hold money and special items, and the crystals open up secret levels once you've collected all of them in a given world. There are also a bunch of side quests to complete like finishing a level without killing any enemies, or blowing out a bunch of torches that are scattered throughout the game. These side missions are handed out by I guess your in-game grandpa? He stands in your house and doesn't help at all, which is irritating.
Visually, Goblin Sword nails the pixelated style of classic side scrolling action games, which is one of the reasons it's so hard to put down. There is a satisfying nostalgia to the presentation, and playing through the game feels like coming home in some respects. But what actually makes this thing so hard to put down for me? Simple: the illusion of progress. In the last stage I found a secret door guarded by a guy in brown pants who wanted 5000 I guess goblin dollars to get past the door. The room behind the door contained a treasure chest with a bad ass sword named "Katar" in it; its special ability engulfs you in flames so you can kill green goo blobs and spear wielding fox monsters just by running into them. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that collecting this sword was my biggest accomplishment of the past three weeks. It's so fucking cool.
Maybe you think that's depressing. Maybe you're right. But what's the difference between illusory victories within two different, made-up paradigms? Six of one, half-dozen of the other right? If I were to make $10,000 trading pork futures, my "family" would be "impressed." But express pride in having killed many pork based creatures dressed in chain mail with a cool whip thing you found in the Shadow Temple, and you'll get nothing but derision. That our money is worth anything is just a lie we all agree upon. Will anybody remember my late night heroics against the fire demon in the Ancient Ruins? Will anybody remember the vanity plate on your certified preowned BMW, Kevin? What if my fellow Goblin Sworders and I agree that our Goblin Dollars ARE worth something, if only just to us? I can't hold my Katar in my hand, but that doesn't mean the fullness of spirit it engenders in me is fake. Right? Anyone?
With tight gameplay mechanics, and a satisfying progression in difficulty, Goblin Sword is a can't miss game for fans of the classic arcade side-scrollers of yesteryear. Its accessible gameplay and spot-on visuals put Goblin Sword amongst the very best iOS games. 4.5/5.