I've come to expect a certain modicum of brevity in games played on my iPhone. Games like Doom Resurrection and Worms proved problematic, taking far too long to get into and out of games, or simply pushing my little 3G's processor to the limit (and being choppy as a result). Meanwhile, smaller titles like Drop7 and Baseball Slugger: Home Run Race 3D excel due to their size.
Wolfenstein RPG shocked me in this respect. I thoroughly enjoyed the deeper experience that the RPG elements offered (a leveling system and well-rewarded exploration), while save-anywhere functionality and short load times encourage quick gameplay sessions. In so many words, it offers the best of both worlds: a deep experience with jump in/jump out functionality.
For $3, developer id Software is offering a ton of content with Wolf RPG. On top of improving the graphics over the previous cell phone iteration, the game has nine large levels filled with a surprisingly wide variety of enemies. A mess of secret areas and tons of useful items kept me exploring each level long after I had capped the last living enemy.
And I did cap an abundance of enemies throughout my journey from a prison cell to the darkest depths of Castle Wolfenstein. From the low-level Nazi soldier to fire-throwing skeletons, fighting every last one was just as fun as the first. Combat is handled through turn-based battle on a grid, each action costing a turn. Though the fights themselves are a bit lacking in interactivity, each enemy requires different tactics, which helps make each battle feel unique.
In my experience, a large group of opponents always necessitates good planning over brute force, lending more depth to Wolf RPG than I've come to expect from most iPhone games. The smorgasbord of distinct items and weapons at my disposal also helps to mix up fights -- the items become par for the course as the game gets more difficult in later levels. Most important of all, I never felt like I was grinding (or had to, for that matter).
Much like the bite-sized Penny Arcade RPG/adventure games, Wolf RPG serves up combat, story, and puzzle elements in easy-to-digest pieces, which kept the game rolling at a good pace. Every now and then I'd run into war-addled Gunther, who'd challenge me -- nay, command me -- to take him on in a game of War. Between Gunther and a similarly hilarious chicken-kicking game, the game clearly never takes itself too seriously, and in doing so, never gets bogged down in story.
It seems that the folks at id Software recognized the iPhone's storytelling limitations and thankfully keep plot elements short and comedic. Though the cutscenes are skippable, I found myself watching every time, waiting for a skeleton to blow up a Nazi or some other ridiculously campy event. Do yourself a favor and make sure to watch all the cutscenes from the Catacombs level -- I assure you, they're worth it.
Though Wolfenstein RPG doesn't have a demo to check out, at $3, it's hard to not give it a shot. With this game, id Software has reinvigorated one of its classic series for the iPhone, and we hope to see the same treatment given to other dusty IPs laying around the company's closets (and yes, we are looking squarely at you, Doom RPG).
Wolfenstein RPG ($2.99):