Apple has revolutionised how we consume and play portable games with iPhone and iPad. In this new regular series, CVG discovers and celebrates the most innovative new iPad games on the App Store. Click through the link to find our full list of the best iPad games.
Best iPad games: Helsing's Fire
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Helsing's Fire is a gentleman's videogame. Success demands a careful, methodical approach and a rigorous appreciation of its internal logic. Strategy and puzzling, those most noble of pursuits, combine beautifully in this striking, original iOS game.
Dr. Helsing and assistant Raffton are a duo of gothic Holmesian heroes, journeying to The Shadow Blight to vanquish Dracula and his minions - an army of vermin, ghouls and other ne'er do wells. The genteel language and mannerisms of Victorian London reflect Helsing's Fire's style of play wonderfully - setting, tone and game mechanics are all in perfect concert here.
That gameplay conceit is the highlight, of course. Place a torch down on the playing field and its beams of light pour outwards, illuminating the foul creatures within its gaze. Drop a coloured potion and it will destroy critters of the same colour caught in your light. The humble videogame wall becomes both help and hindrance in Helsing's Fire. They prevent your light from catching a creature of the wrong colour, but also block your beams from reaching that vital last creature. With your torch on your fingertip, you must explore every angle and option to find the right spot. Unleash your limited stash of potions in the right way, eliminate every creature and the stage is complete.
Extra layers of strategy pile on as each new member of Dracula's underworld army is introduced. Puzzles soon demand multiple attempts as you manouvre the torch around the screen, testing and tweaking its position, allowing beams of light to wash through certain openings and halting it from entering others.
Impatient gamers, beware: Take a moment to check and double check before dropping a potion. It is all too easy to carelessly overlook a creature, though smaller errors of judgement aren't punished by a game over screen. Run out of tonics or torch a creature of the wrong colour and you must do the honourable thing - restart the puzzle yourself. Leave a helpless maiden in your torches' path (an unforgivable crime) and the game stops straight away. It's the gentlemanly thing to do.
Even during puzzles, this game's manners are impeccable. Agonise over where to drop our torch too long and Raffton suggests you might need a moment's rest. Occasionally, having stumbled upon the solution, he interjects "I see no reason to delay longer, sir", encouraging you to drop that potion. "My eyelids grow heavy" and "Perhaps we should take a nap" he kept saying as I struggled over one puzzle late last night. I was wise to take heed - I retired for the evening and woke this morning refreshed. I romped through those same puzzles with relative ease.
With every five puzzles solved, the fog which hangs over the game's map rolls back a little further. In the boss battles at the end of each 'world', the hunter becomes the hunted. You must hide your torch from your otherwordly enemy lest it be extinguished by their deadly beams. It's a pulse-quickening jolt of action after so much steady consideration.
Helsing's Fire is packed with challenges, too. The game's first tale, The Shadow Blight, contains 90 puzzles, and a total of 90 more await in the second and third scenarios, The Shocking Mire and The Frozen North. An alternative Survival mode quickens the pace considerably, and a Bounties option is an extra for advanced players only. It is a separate set of challenges, open to all of Helsing's Fire players globally. The reward is increased the more people attempt (and fail) to solve them, with the victor taking the spoils.
Helsing's Fire is a little gentle before the really taxing puzzles begin, but again that seems to suit this game's demeanour. It is an original, illuminating and carefully considered piece of software. A gentlemen's videogame, then.
Helsing's Fire for iPhone is £0.69 on the App Store. Download it here.
Helsing's Fire HD for iPad is £1.99 on the App Store. Download it here.