Crow

The Dark Lord is close to resurrecting and is seeking power to absorb or usurp from others. As harbinger of his coming, it falls to you to aid the evil entity in his mad quest. Crow is set within a medieval backdrop that tells of magic and nature being in disarray, whereupon the Dark Lord will rise and take over. But in order for him to come into the world and exert his influence, he needs to leech off others. To achieve this, the Dark Lord has tapped into the mind of the titular crow, an actual bird given the power to cast spells. Crow takes off into the air and his objective is to curse his marks and mercilessly destroy them to feed his master's growing taste for power.

You’re almost never on the ground, and when you are, it is only to take a break to read story sections that flesh out the plot of the game. These are presented from the dark tone of your master and a benevolent entity that asks Crow to reconsider his servitude. The game consists of flying over four different maps while using a mouse pointer to uncover secrets and click on points of interest to engage the story, collect trinkets to power Crow’s skills up, and initiate events and encounters. The maps are limited in design and discovery is usually done by spamming mouse clicks until you’re done finding everything. Missions involve Crow moving through a predetermined flight path while the player helps him by steering the bird towards loose trinkets, health and energy pick-ups and performing offensive and defensive maneuvers.

Crow is an easy game to jump into and exclusively played with the mouse. If you’ve ever played any game on the Nintendo DS or 3DS then you’re likely to figure out the controls by instinct. Even if you haven’t experienced a touch pad game before, Crow easily conveys maneuverability and actions. To attack successfully, you must wait until an enemy locks their eyes onto you (so they’re vulnerable to your spells) before you can slow down time to cast spells. The claw spell is your main attack and the protection spell can be craftily used to defend yourself and launch a counterattack. It’s simple gameplay in the form of an obstacle gauntlet you must survive through while defeating numerous foes and bosses.

To influence gameplay and character progression, skills are unlocked by your actions during specific events. To channel power from the defeated bosses into your master, Crow must curse a weakened boss, thus killing them and receiving part of the power in the form of a new skill; but he can also choose to spare these creatures, forfeiting the latter and making the Dark Lord angry at Crow. As the story progresses, the master’s attitude towards Crow will change depending on what kind of servant the bird is and this will indubitably change how the player approaches subsequent challenges and encounters with or without additional skills.

Crow's flight sequences are similar to Spyro The Dragon's famous bonus flight levels. The only difference is that Crow follows a predetermined path. Collected trinkets can be used to enhance existing skills once enough have been acquired, and every challenge you find can be repeatedly played to beat your own high-score. I didn’t feel that this added a lot to the game honestly, mainly because the flight levels are very short experience and the challenges don’t offer anything memorable enough to warrant a replay.

Crow is a simple and short journey that doesn't offer sizeable morsels to its plate, but players interested in story will find Crow's tale of action and consequence to enough to keep them engaged during exploration and action downtime. For a title offered from the iOS store, the graphics did not really impress me, with its square-y textures and flat visuals; but the music is a different story. Perfectly soothing while in free roam and epic during showdowns. The game can be completed in under two hours and it doesn’t offer outlandish amounts of difficulty, making it fun but not challenging at all even at higher difficulty settings. With its low amount of content, I wondered about its discounted price tag. Maybe $3 should have been the default price, unless the developers are planning to add extra levels or more unlockable challenges. Crow manages to be good, is what I’m trying to say, but it’s not “hold-your-breath here it comes” good.