Sword of Xolan is a metroidvania action platformer about a sword wielding hero named Xolan. The game was created by Alper Sarikaya and his team, launching just over two week ago. These days with the amount of shit being peddled through the App Store crippled with In App Purchases, it’s almost unusual to find a well made premium game with no cost apart from the initial price tag – that includes pesky popup ads and ‘reward for ad view’ game mechanics.
Xolan is a premium game in every sense of the word, it’s old school. You buy the game once for the price of a coffee, you play it, finish it and you move on.
Some game market ‘experts’ will tell you that it’s a shortsighted approach, but those guys are tools. So thank you Alper for delivering a truly premium game with no slide of hand trickery.
The game starts with a brief story introducing Xolan as the protagonist, a story of heroism, a great evil and all that good stuff. And in true mobile fashion, it’s quickly forgotten and not largely irrelevant, which I am satisfied with as it lets players focus on what this game is really all about, hacking and slashing like a mofo.
Sword of Xolan plays out over 3 acts which each consist of different environments, 10 well crafted and expansive levels, and capped off by a big boss. In true retro fashion the bosses are these oversized behemoths that run on a patterned attack cycle.
I really really like this game. Often when I do reviews I will find myself playing games for the sake of getting enough of a taste to work with for a review. But in this case the game hooked me like a dog to a juicy steak. (I’ve been playing it on and off for about two weeks now).
This game reminds me a lot of Goblin Sword which I reviewed a few months ago. Like Xolan, it had hidden passages, moving platforms and a pixel/retro look and feel. Goblin sword has more levels, though I would argue that Xolan has a slightly better quality of level design. You can feel the meticulous placement of each obstacle and jump just a little more. I also have no doubt that the current 3 acts are just the start of what this game has in store for us.
Interestingly Xolan doesn’t have a responsive jump (where holding the jump button makes you jump higher as in Super Mario Bros). Instead jumps have a fixed height. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Typically I think having a responsive jump gives a tighter and more controlled experience. As a result I found myself on numerous occasions being thrown into deadly situations that I could only blame the game for. The player does also have the ability to double jump, which alleviates some of the challenge caused by the fixed height first jump.
There are disposable magic potions found scattered throughout the levels that give you the ability to do hadookens, perfect for ranged assaults against tricky foes. However there is no real equipment or skill upgrade system which pretty much takes it out of the RPG category, instead there is an interesting ‘card system’, which involves unlocking cards with coins and flipping them over to reveal a random booster, including a higher loot drop percentage and extra starting lives. It’s not a bad addition to the game, although there is no strategy to the system, just turn over random cards and hope the upgrade is something worthwhile.
Hidden in each level are 3 caged damsels in distress to be found, a nice change over the usual gem hunting. Each has a name and unique outfit, and while finding them is optional, releasing them from their constraints will yield a bonus score, some shines coins, and satisfy the completionist in you. That and making you feel like a real ladies man.
The game’s audio is pretty cool. Epic musical scores with undertones of adventure and wonder, sprinkled with a nice variety of sound effects. I did however find the game can be a little cheesy / cheap with its dialogue and voice acting (Yep, Xolan talks).
Xolan makes queer exclamations like ‘ooh baby’, ‘it’s honky time’ and ‘Xolan is in the house’.
There are some noticeable grammatical errors in parts of the story and dialogue. it’s not s big deal, but with the game looking as polished as this one, I think a few bucks could have been spent for a translator/ VO artist who speaks the features language naively. I guess you could say it gives the game some charm.
Being a premium game with No IAP, you must rely purely on your wits and finger dexterity to get through the adventure. Be prepared for fire pits, rotating spikes, falling blades and an absolute smorgasbord
of evil minions to bury your sword into.
It’s very refreshing and almost jarring to find a game with in-game ‘coins’ to spend that are just that, coins obtained in game to spend in game.
Overall Sword of Xolan is extremely well done, the game plays smoothly as silk and doesn’t skip a beat. The attention to detail and developer love infused into this game is clear.
I for one cannot wait to see what else the developer Alper Sarikaya has in store for us. ACT 4? I hope so!
Without a doubt, this game should be in every mobile gamers collection.