Sword of Xolan hit mobile devices thanks to the hard work of Alper Sarikaya, and it’s one of the few well-crafted mobile platformers that offers up a rewarding experience.
So many go for either an auto-scrolling approach or dumb down the controls to such a degree that succeeding in the game doesn’t feel challenging.
Enemies will exist just to be killed, and platforms require no skill to traverse successfully.
SoW is a hack and slash platformer with some projectile combat thrown in too. In that sense, it evokes a bit of the Mega Man Zero games because that also gave you long and short-range combat. Xolan emphasizes exploration more than most platforms thanks to treasure chests hidden throughout the world.
Finding all of the coins will improve your total score – so completionists aiming for five-star stage completion will want to pay attention. Beyond just finding treasure, you can also free prisoners that have been hidden throughout the world. There are usually three people to find, and you’ll be alerted at the end of the stage if you missed anyone.
Your sword has a fantastic range – giving you enough room to attack while staying safe. So many games give you a dinky sword that requires you to be right next to your enemies to attack. This one gives you, at least, one body length between you and most rivals – assuming they don’t have a larger weapon to swing.
When you’re fighting a close-range enemy like that, you’ll want to watch their patterns and only attack when they aren’t. Sure, you can be daring and try to attack mid-swing, but you’re asking for trouble doing that. Longer-range enemies are naturally a bit tougher to hit but usually, take fewer fireball shots.
Some will throw things from high above, and for them, you’ll want to blast them away with your fireball. Efficiency is key when you’re using the fireball since you are limited to three shots unless you get a potion refill.
The action part of the action-platformer is excellent, and the platformer portions are rock-solid too. Both the single jump and double jump are easy to use and allow you to traverse the world without being able to blame the game for falling into a spike pit.
The platforming tricks can get fairly advanced here too, which is rare for a mobile game – you can even jump down while on a platform. It’s a console-quality platformer in every way. The default on-screen controls work just fine, and instant controller support makes things even better. The layout is logical and easy to remember, and button response time is perfect as well.
Visually, the pixel art style is quite pleasing to the eye. Many games have done the 8-bit pixel art style while this goes for more of a 16-bit look with more colors than most games then. It’s kind of like a hybrid of 16-bit and 32-bit pixel art, with a lot of detail in the backgrounds.
The animation is also incredibly smooth and doesn’t fall into the trap of being so smooth that it makes jump and attack timing difficult. Enemies could stand to be more diverse, though, as you do seem to defeat the same few enemies throughout the game’s many stages.
Musically, the soundtrack goes for an epic sound and hits more than it misses. There’s a nice range of instrumentation, with some drums and guitars mixed in with flutes as well. It’s diverse and usually adds to the game quite a bit. A few songs are grating, but not many.
Sword of Xolan does feature a bit of voice work, but most of the story is told via cinematics. While the developer certainly did his best, the English is quite flawed – but doesn’t affect the plot any. Typos are present, but you can still get the gist of the “save the world” storyline pretty easily.
Sword of Xolan is a top-shelf platformer that is a must-play for mobile users. It’s completely free to play as well – all you need to put up with is a post-level ad. Given its high level of polish and high replayability thanks to fun gameplay and various rewards for exploration, it is a great game just to play in short bursts or for extended periods of time. It looks great, controls like a dream, and platformer fans should give it a shot.