Game Review: Backstab


“My name is Henry Blake, once a proud officer in England’s Royal Navy. Now I stand a shattered man. Betrayed, imprisoned, my fiancée taken away, I have now found my freedom - and soon I shall find my revenge.”

Ok let’s do the review.

Thanks for Matt Sevely from Gameloft Spain for giving me the game for the review.

Backstab is a new action platform with RPG features launched by Gameloft on June 23, 2011.

It’s available in iTunes App Store for US$6.99, compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPod 3rd Gen, iPad and higher. Being universal means the same one works at full normal, iPad and Retina resolutions.

It’s also available in Android Market for US$6.99, compatible with Android phones and tablets that include high-end 3D accelerators (full list on Market).

As my Android device is anything but listed (no 3D hardware at all), my review is based solely on the iPhone 4 and iPad versions.

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The technicals

Backstab presents us with great graphics, while still having a fluid gameplay. Indeed while playing on the iPad I just though I have no reason to buy a portable console.

The controls, consist of two virtual areas with four virtual buttons. On the left, the virtual area allows looking, on the right the four buttons control the interaction and combat functions and on the rest of the screen we control the movement with our fingers. This results a pretty good control scheme, that I got easily used to, and is present on other Gameloft titles.

The whole game contains conversational audio, always in English, with a big list of translated subtitles. However, at least in Spanish, the translations are not perfect, sometimes omitting important story details or using incorrect expressions.

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The story

The game starts with you impersonating Henry Blake, a british official in colonial times, being betrayed by your best friend.

Here starts the adventure to bring light to the conspiracy that brings you to jail, getting help from other betrayed commanders, smugglers and thieves.

In a very linear story, where quests must be done in sequence, secondary quests give you nothing but unusable money (best weapons are given free completing main quests) and a big lose of time, everything starts funny and interesting until the middle of the game, where you’ll get easily bored of doing the same and same and same over again, and the story gets fucked up (ok, zombies!?).

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With the excellent Gameloft’s control system, playing is easy, and well done, but there are a couple of things that soon make the game boring.

First of all the linear story. There is only a main quest at any time, when you finish it another new one appears. Secondary quests give mostly money, and some times objects.

Then combats, they can be distance (shooting guns) or close (handling swords), with some using ship cannons, but mostly you’ll never use a single gun, and combats are so easy, I’ve seen myself rounded by more than 8 guards and receiving not a single hit. And in a single hour you’ll have more money than you’ll able to spend at all.

Continuing with an annoying IA, like so you’re walking on the city and accidentally touch a guard, then you have all the city guards wanting to kill you, forcing you to use a safe house (and paying it).

And finally, a severe bug that makes your hits be counted as if you were a big box. In the above image, for example, in the ground there are spears that kill you on contact, upping and downing from the ground. If you walk near the hole, while the spears are down, so near that you’re almost inside the hole but not in it, you’ll die. This happens over all the game, making some stages a nuisance that will probably make you abandon the game for another day.

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This is an interesting game, with great graphics and a mediocre story. But the interest is soon lost, making it just a game for moments, when you have nothing else to play.

Graphics: 4.5 / 5
Sound: 4 / 5 
Gameplay: 3 / 5
Quality/cost: 3.5 / 5

Overall score: 3.75