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Epic Island is a fun RPG from Backflip Studios

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I'm a fan of Backflip studios. Plundernauts is one of my favorite games, and I like Spellfall a lot, too. Now I've had the chance to play with Epic Island (universal, free with in-app purchases), and I've found it has the same thoughtful charm as its siblings.

Epic Island is a full RPG with quests, baddies to battle, loot, equipment upgrades and all the goodies you'd expect to find. When the game starts you have the option to connect to Facebook so you can share your exploits with your friends (don't worry, Facebook login is not required). The first thing you'll do is create a profile with information, and then you're ready to get to it.

The fun begins when you recruit a hero. Initially there are five to choose from:

  1. The dashing male
  2. The daring huntress
  3. The wise man
  4. The nimble elf
  5. The stout dwarf
Each has its strengths and weakness, so pick the one that fits your fighting style and give him or her a name. From there, the battles begin! Epic Island does a good job of leading you through the game's functions, which I like. Learning while playing is so much better than sitting through a dull tutorial.

Your first character starts in the "evil tree," where he battles a nasty beastie. This particular bad guy is pretty easy to kill and when you do, you'll collect fame, coins and progress. Fame is like XP, and allows the character to level up. Gold coins are the game's in-game currency and progress speeds up the rate with which a dungeon's level increases.

Gallery: Epic Island | 7 Photos



Now here's the neat thing (or the terrible thing, depending what you like in an RPG). Gathering and equipping/upgrading loot is emphasized more heavily than the actual combat. When a hero engages in battle, a timer begins, counting down how long the battle should take. During that time, you're free to move away from the action and work with another character in the blacksmith shop, the arena for one-on-one battles or in a dungeon of his or her own. Now, if you want to watch every battle you certainly can, but I often find it kind of boring to watch the same combat animations over and over, especially when you're grinding coins or gems. I think it's an interesting and appealing choice to let me start a battle, move away and get a notification when it's over.

In-app purchases are available, but I've found it's possible to play this game entirely for free, as long as you're the patient type. Gems let you speed up action and hire additional heroes, whom you'll need to defeat the nastier bad guys. You will acquire gems at a regular rate, but not a whole lot of them. If you lack the patience, there's an option to buy.

As for Epic Island's looks, it's just as cute as their other titles. The art is cartoonish without being silly. It's fun to tap around the island and open new areas.

I'm pretty happy with Epic Island and will continue to play. You can enjoy the app for free as long as you're the patient type. The emphasis on loot vs. combat will put some players off, but I liked it a whole lot. RPG fans will certainly want to check this one out.

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