I’ve never been shy when it came to voicing my opinion of shooters on touch devices. Namely that they just don’t work. Then I found out the solution was to remove traditional movement and camera control, focusing instead on insanely fun cover mechanics. That, in a nutshell, is Epoch, from the wonderfully named Uppercut Games. It’s an absolutely gorgeous game with fast paced visceral combat that keeps you on your toes, and it even has an interesting story thrown in the mix.
Throughout the game, you play as a guardian class robot named Epoch. After waking up in the middle of a war torn city, you begin searching for the Princess you’ve been tasked to protect as your last and only known mission directive. You soon come across legions of bad bots standing in your way, and have to fight your way into the heart of the city. The story is told bit by bit through intercepted emails, broadcasts, and even text messages as you learn what happened from several different perspectives. It seems that, in this city at least, humanity has been wiped out after the machines went all I, Robot on their faces. Seeing “ASIMOV WAS WRONG” tagged on an alley wall is a nice touch.
To grossly oversimplify the game, it’s basically a post apocalyptic sci-fi version of Infinity Blade, with cover based shooting instead of melee combat. To target enemies, you need only highlight them with a single tap, and the shooting is taken care of for you. The meat of the game play is in avoiding enemy attacks by moving through cover. Each section of each level is like a shooting gallery set piece. Using very intuitive swipe controls, you roll and leap from cover point to cover point. You can also perform a super jump from one end of the section to the other. The basic ‘Gunner’ enemies always track your movements, but they lag behind you a bit and are easy to take care of. Soon you have to deal with timed mines, laser beams that slice through cover, or overcharge blasts that can only be dodged. It can get intense, and It’s awesome. Eventually you’ll unlock special attacks, which are like your basic spells with cool-down timers. These are your grenades, missile barrages, and boosters, which all add another layer of strategy to the game.
After beating a level, you’ll be rewarded with salvaged gear, intercepted transmissions, experience, and credits. Credits are used to buy new gear from the scrap yard. There are several different ammunition variants, from corrosive ‘damage-over-time’ shots to electrified ‘stun’ shots, and these variants can be applied to every weapon, including your specials. There is a ton of equipment to buy, and you’ll never afford everything in one play through. The initial play through of the game should take about an hour. It’s a really short game, but it’s meant to be played multiple times. The game starts you off on easy difficulty, with each subsequent difficulty being unlocked after you beat the one below it. You have to beat the game on hard if you want to get the whole story and the true ending.
The game’s fantastic graphics are powered by the Unreal Engine. This is easily one of the best looking iPhone apps out there, but it is the best looking in my opinion. The world is just full of vibrant colors, as opposed to dull browns and grays, and it’s a feast for the eyes. The sound effects and music are all top notch as well. Honestly, the game will probably be too repetitive for many people, but it didn’t bother me at all, and I had to rip myself away to write this review. Game Center achievements are supported, though they’re just your basic game progression and difficulty ones. The game is iOS universal, and it can be yours for six dollars. If you enjoy it enough to play through multiple times like I did, it’s more than worth your money. Give it a shot.