Aralon: Sword and Shadow — A Compelling Adventure
When Crescent Moon first released Aralon: Sword and Shadow in December of 2010, it was a game quite unlike anything that had been seen on mobile devices before. On game consoles and home computers, massive RPG epics like The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Dragon Age: Origins were dazzling players with their huge worlds and immersive adventures. Crescent Moon had already made a bit of a splash in the mobile gaming scene with the November 2009 release of Ravensword: The Fallen King, one of the earliest attempts at a 3D action-RPG on smartphones. A crude attempt in many ways, Ravensword nevertheless did well enough to signal that there was a hungry audience for games of that sort.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow reflected the increased confidence that came with that foundation, presenting a world far bigger and more densely packed with content than any other 3D RPG on the platform at the time. It offered a robust character creator that allowed players to choose between a variety of fantasy races and job classes, along with a bit of cosmetic customization. It was packed with quests, both required and optional. You could fish! There were horses and other mounts in the game that you could ride to travel from place to place more quickly. It was like there was a giant-sized world full of adventure inside of your tiny little mobile device.
These days, Aralon: Sword and Shadow provides fantastic historical context to future mobile role playing games. Crescent Moon would go on to develop and publish many more RPGs, with 2012’s Ravensword: Shadowlands delivering a similar sort of experience. Other publishers would produce their own 3D RPGs, and the march of technology meant that the once-cutting edge Aralon saw its presentation surpassed many times in the years following its release. And yet even today, there’s something special about Aralon. It cast a shadow so long that even its own sequel had trouble escaping it. While newer RPGs boast updated graphics, the adventure the original presents is still incredibly compelling.
There are multiple cities in the game, each one filled with sights to see. Dungeons both mandatory and optional pepper the game world, each one containing treasures, traps, and plenty of nasty monsters to fight. You’ll visit lots of different environments, from creepy caves to mysterious forests and even the sewers of a city. There are lots of different weapons and types of gear to equip, and you’ll need to find some of that excellent loot to survive some of the tougher battles.
One of the aspects that helps the game come alive is in the large number of characters you’ll meet on your journey. Cities and towns have lots of people to talk to, many of whom have quests for you to embark on. You’ll come across people in both the strangest of places and the most pedestrian. Yes, the rooms at the inns are often occupied, and they won’t take kindly to your ill manners if you push things too far. When combined with the huge interconnected landscapes and environments, it really does feel like you’re inhabiting a living world. A somewhat blocky world by today’s standards, no doubt, but a genuinely delightful one to explore.
Ambitious games that appear early in a platform’s life cycle often run the risk of losing their shine over time, but Aralon: Sword and Shadow is just as easy to lose yourself in now as it was nearly ten years ago at its launch. Those who love exploring interesting environments or digging into epic RPGs will find this game still delivers a satisfying punch. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your weapon of choice and go save the day!