Coldfire Keep, a first-person dungeon crawler from Crescent Moon Games, is now available from the app store. With its dreary setting, sparse combat, and clunky controls, Coldfire Keep was unable to capture our attention for very long.
Coldfire Keep Pros:
- Old-school graphics replicate the feeling of being in an abandoned, dreary underground labyrinth
- Controls offer both gesture-based and button-based options, with a map that tracks explored rooms
- Lots of loot to find, items to equip and use, and character classes to coordinate
Coldfire Keep Cons:
- Visual repetition gets boring
- Controls suffer from lack of responsiveness
- Didn’t provide much excitement
When odd happenings and escaped monsters alarm a nearby village, four adventurous folks venture into Coldfire Keep, an abandoned castle housing the Coldfire crystal which powers a portal that has imprisoned scores of foul beasts…. until now. You can choose from Warrior, Rogue, Caster, and Shaman classes of individuals, altering avatars, genders, and a number of attributes for each. You’ll wander around the Keep, reading walls of text or engaging in banter with your mates about your surroundings. It appears pretty empty until you happen upon a pair of sisters who run businesses inside the Keep. When one grants access to another portion of the building, we had high hopes that things would start to heat up. Despite having found a cleaver, our entire party succumbed to a simple rat twice before we figured out how to equip the darned thing. Even when we did get it equipped, the “turn-based” battles often cost us our party once the only character with a weapon was killed. The battles are fairly quick affairs, and if you don’t act fast, you’ll take significant damage. Fortunately, there are altars that can heal you and your buds, though a cool down timer prevents you from overusing them. There is a food-based health system that requires you to eat rations found in the castle to stay alive. Alternatively, you could try your luck at fishing at the various random watering holes for your food source. In all, it’s a somewhat complicated adventure with an interface that feels better designed for PC than mobile, and it suffers from a significant lack of excitement throughout.
Graphically, the Keep looks the part, though it does get kind of boring staring at brick walls all of the time. It is a necessary evil, but the bland nature of the locale tended to bum us out more than it pumped us up. There are occasional splashes of color from portals and the like, but if it weren’t for the map, we’d swear we were walking in circles over and over again. Text size was quite small, making things difficult to read and likely to be skipped. The soundtrack was decent, though the sound effects, especially for combat, felt kind of underwhelming. Controls require you to swipe to move in the desired direction, while a two-finger swipe should allow you to strafe as a time-saving shortcut. Unfortunately, this rarely works and usually requires repeated attempts. You can continuously move by holding your finger on-screen, run by double-tapping, and pinch to look up or down. There is an alternative method that places a bunch of directional arrows on the screen if the gestures get too frustrating. A button in the lower left corner offers access to a map that takes shape as you uncover new areas. The character portraits provide access to stats, inventories, etc. This is also where you equip items for use, such as weapons or armor that you find. Tapping on objects should pick them up or activate them, in the case of levers and switches. Combat is handled by tapping the sword icon underneath a character’s avatar, while spell casting uses the other icon beneath the character image. We found this system awkward, and the general lack of responsiveness made it quite difficult to become immersed in the game, as we spent more time fighting this issue than anything else.
Replay value is present for gamers who miss the heyday of the dungeon crawler, but for us, it just didn’t light our fire. Perhaps we weren’t meant to traipse around castles full of monsters with woefully ill-equipped friends. There are no social gaming elements to speak of, either. A universal app for $4.99, we’d like to give Coldfire Keep the benefit of the doubt and bestow upon it a 3.5-Dimple score.