The majority of iOS games I sit down to play are useless in minutes because the controls are gumpf. Either overly complicated or just completely unresponsive, it's impossible to enjoy a fair whack of what's on offer because you're continually fighting with the game. Shadowblade is the complete antithesis of that.
A fairly standard hack-n-slash platformer where you majestically jump through its world before plunging your sword into unexpecting enemy skulls, its true power comes to light because of how well implemented its control system is: based around a series of taps and swipes, as ever, it responds to you almost effortlessly.
Thanks to this, Shadowblade is able to get serious with the genre it's committed itself to, asking you to hurl your ninja hero through would-be assault courses that on occasion would even make old-school Mario blush. You can also string everything it teaches you together to the point of never breaking your stride. Achieve this, and the sense of pride you feel will be a little embarrassing.
The entire package continues this run of success. Shadowblade has the looks to win over the more cynical among us, a soundtrack that is excellent, and is presented in a way that makes you think what you're engaging with is a big deal. This ain't playschool anymore, son…
It improves the more you play, too, because of how varied it keeps events. The later levels are a genuine challenge, and the few collectables scattered around open up a harder test should you feel inclined to hunt them down. A horde-esque mode even pops up from time to time.
Easily one of the better mobile games in recent memory, Shadowblade is a shining beacon and a stinging lesson to other developers. This is the bar. Now you try and raise it.
Version tested: iOS (iPhone 5). Played for 3 hours.