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Helsing's Fire review

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Posted by: James Pikover

Review Rating 8.5 Great

Van Helsing is at it again. The curmudgeoning doctor-turned-vampire hunter just can't seem to leave the harmless, selfless undead alone. This time, all the innocent Dracula is doing is hanging out in England, when suddenly Helsing decides, with his pesky sidekick Rafton, to undo all the hard work Dracula has put into renovating a few buildings. Leave the guy alone already!

But I suppose the developers at Ratloop enjoy pushing the envelope with what's morally and ethically just in this era, where racism against zombies is applauded. The undead overall have it very tough, and Helsing's Fire is no exception. Players go on a quest to remove Dracula's influence, which has inspired the undead to come out into the daylight, only to be crushed again by the powerful magic potions Helsing employs.

The game is simple: Helsing destroys his merry foes using three magical potions and a torch. The torch lights 'em up, and the potions mow 'em down. Anyone not in the light of the torch isn't attacked. The three potions are color coordinated to the fair creatures dwelling peaceably, and whenever the correct color strikes, it inflicts a mortal wound. The stronger undead have barrier shields permitting them to endure more attacks.

As a peace-loving race, the undead rarely even attack Helsing, though they will put out his torch if he gets too close. Of course, players can just leave the level and return to start anew, upon failing to claim the well, lives of his adversaries, or if he loses all his torches. Good for Helsing, bad for the skeletons and rats.

Some of these undead, however, do fight back: Some shoot dark energy while others throw spears, some have the ability to hide from the torch light, yet others use women already promised (all lawfully, mind you!) to Dracula, for protection. This puzzler requires Helsing to ignite all his foes across numerous stages to face off against the dark lord himself. And he's a great guy, I'll tell you that much.

The unique gameplay is entertaining for both a few minutes at a time, or for a long sitting, which is rare in a mobile game. The dialog is witty and charming, and the puzzles are challenging, but not tormenting. Several will give players pause, while many others take no longer than 20-30 seconds each. Fear not: there are 75 levels, plus three survival modes which run players against the clock. Not only will the game take at least five to six hours to complete the campaign alone, the survival mode and various difficulty levels add hours upon hours of additional gameplay.

So go ahead, charge on with your racist media, your propaganda against the frightfully helpless and nearly defenseless undead. Helsing's Fire may be one of the most well-built games on the iPhone, and may be one of the most enjoyable, but every purchase you and your friends make for it, is another purchase against the undead.

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