We’ve seen how increasingly complex games are finding their way to the mobile market, including ports such as GTA: Vice City and the like, but while it's technically impressive to see a console game from a few years ago running on your phone, the form factor and lack of dedicated controller means some just aren't as fun to play on the go. This is starting to be addressed with compact controllers being released and developers creating adaptive touch controls as an alternative, but this is at times met with mixed success.
Archangel is the latest in a line of iOS dungeon-crawlers that hark back to the classic days of Diablo, searching for a way to replicate that fantasy realm magic on the small screen. As the titular soldier of light, replete with sparkling ethereal wings, you are awoken from your Saturday morning lie-in to deal with some rampant evil that has asserted itself. That's pretty much it in the way of plot, though one could argue that when seeking a quick gaming fix on the move, the last thing one wants is to get stuck in a glut of exposition.
The stumbling block most games of this ilk face is the real-time nature they possess; while turn-based efforts such as Warhammer Quest are perfectly at home on the tablet, the imprecision and limited area of the touch screen can struggle to keep up with the rapid-fire orders required when a dozen demons are on your tail. Luckily Archangel has a few smart play refinements which make the experience a good deal more agreeable. The heavenly warrior can teleport across the screen at will and has a ranged fireball attack from the outset, so you can quickly get out of harm's way while still delivering damage. Alas, the hectic pace of later sections in the game is more than the screen can bear, with gesture-based attacks frequently being mixed up in the madness.
It’s graphically impressive for a mobile title, with gothic architecture and destructible scenery, but the locale never seems to change over the course of the game. The rows upon rows of marble columns may be pretty to look at, but all too often are an unwelcome visual barrier when surrounded by ghouls. While a few cut scenes occasionally interject with a fraction of plot info, the next level will almost always be battling slightly different demons in basically the same environment.
The game does possess an impressive number of items to clad your angelic form in, which are available to purchase between levels. Themed armour and weapon sets such as the Templar, Ranger and Wanderer dish out an added bonus for wearing all their items together. This is coupled with an interesting risk loot system where you can test your luck by gambling the previous level’s loot on the success of the next one. The dreaded in-app purchases make an appearance, but the game doesn’t require them to progress. On the contrary, the various powers the angel possess almost make the game too easy. The best of these is the resurrection ability, where a just-slayed opponent can be raised to fight for the side of the righteous. Others include a wall of flame which the demons with blithely walk through for substantial damage, and a frosty blast which will immobilise several at a time.
Archangel takes several innovative steps towards making the dungeon-crawler viable for phones and tablets, including cloud saving for play on multiple devices, but ultimately it’s just a pale, pale shadow of what the likes of Diablo 3, Torchlight 2 and even the free-to-play Path Of Exile are capable of doing on the PC. Perhaps this angel should have stayed in bed.