Portabliss: God of Blades (iOS)

This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

White Whale Games took worldbuilding seriously in God of Blades. Well, maybe "seriously" isn't the right word. God of Blades takes place in a world inspired by pulp fantasy novels, Roger Dean, and '70s album covers; a world of alien rock outcroppings, odd-colored skies and demonic sword-fighters. Levels are introduced by mocked up sci-fi or fantasy book covers, and bosses come with names like "Koz the Hungerer, wielder of Boneblister."

It's not entirely serious, but White Whale Games is committed to this world. And then you run through it at top speed, waving a sword around.

God of Blades is a unique permutation on the "auto-runner" genre, as your "Nameless King" dashes through a series of predesigned levels. Your controls consist of simple swipes, which swing your sword in one of three directions or pause briefly for a block. You face off against a variety of other enemies, also running headlong into wielding weapons.

There's a sort of rock-paper-scissors element to combat. Do you approach with the overhead strike, or lead with the slower, but longer-reaching sideways swing? Or do you block? Most of the time, you'll connect with your first swing and take your enemy down. Sometimes, especially with bosses, it becomes a tense battle of parries and quick attacks, in which you hope you connect before your enemy does.

Portabliss God of Blades iOS
It's sword fighting distilled to an exciting, easy to learn essence. Plus the ability to sling a body with your sword onto the next enemy, killing him as well. I don't think that happens in real sword fighting, but it's hilarious. I guess you don't expect real sword fights to be hilarious either.

Appropriately for a game built around fictional fantasy novels, God of Blades ties into real books in a surprising way. New swords can be unlocked through "Loreseeker," which is a fancy term for going to a library and connecting to its wi-fi network. If you're not already going to your local library, perhaps some free virtual swords would entice you. But why aren't you going to your local library? I'm worried you're missing out on one of your neighborhood's most useful resources.

While the effect of all the overwrought high-fantasy stuff is amusing, I suspect there's some deeply serious philosophy under all of it. White Whale says the game "asks players to think about memory, culture, and loss in terms of stories, books, and the communities that love them." That fits with the library tie-in, and the "Nameless King" explores weird, hazy memories as he fights. In addition, the notional books that frame God of Blades remind players that there is an infinite variety of real literature in the world that hasn't been discovered. And look, you're at the library anyway!
God of Blades is available on iOS for $2.99. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.