Crow is a game of exploration, character progression, and combat. There are mysteries to be solved as the story unfolds, as you try to find what you need to defeat progressively difficult guardians in your quest toward victory.
The gameplay of Crow is broken up into two distinct phases. First comes the open-ended exploration portion where you soar high over the landscape, searching for various trinkets and powerups. While I enjoyed the freeform nature of this phase, I also found it a bit tedious as you must repeatedly fly over the landscape before everything you need to collect pops into view. Still, there is something intrinsically enjoyable about exploration and treasure hunting, and this part of the game definitely scratches that itch. I did, however, find myself wishing for a different control scheme. Touching (and holding) will cause your crow to fly in the direction of your finger, and tapping will cause it to stop. I would have preferred being able to steer via D-Pad so I could see the landscape a bit better, but I managed to get used to it.
Similar to Infinity Blade, combat is handled entirely "on rails." For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is often used to describe a control scheme where you control only the actions of your in-game character and not its movement. For example, while you can dodge side-to-side, you can't, say, maneuver behind your opponent, or attack from the side. Also like Infinity Blade, combat is handled through a variety of offensive and defensive maneuvers, and your success will depend on your ability to select the correct ones as your opponents cannot all be defeated using the same actions and strategies. Remember the trinkets you collected in the previous game phase? Well, those can be used to enhance your offense/defense/spellpower/etc., and are absolutely essential to your success. Lastly, Crow supports Game Center for leaderboards and achievements.
Crow's graphics, especially on the new iPad, may be the game's biggest selling point. On that device's ultra-high resolution screen everything looks amazingly crisp. What's more, the frame rates don't suffer from this monocole-popping upgrade, making Crow one of the best looking games available for it. If you don't have a new iPad, however, fret not; Crow still looks amazing.
The music of Crow is far more noticeable than the sound effects. Both are good, however, the developers are so proud of the music that they made it available for purchase on iTunes. I'm not sure, however, that I would spend $9 to buy the soundtrack to a $3 game. Regardless, it's quite good, and worthy of headphones if you've got them.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Crow contains no in-app purchases (hidden or otherwise), which is a breath of fresh air these days.
Crow is an enjoyable, beautiful action adventure for iOS. The controls aren't perfect, but they're probably as good as they can be due to the limitations of a touch interface. If you like exploring, treasure collecting, light role-playing, and rails-based combat, it doesn't get any better than Crow. Even if you only like a few of the items on the above-list, you are still likely to have a great time with this gorgeous (visually and aurally) game.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Monocle-popping; especially on the new iPad. Sound: - 5 - A great soundtrack that truly enhances the mood of the game. Controls: - 3 - The controls take some getting used to, but at least they're working as intended so practice can make perfect. Gameplay: - 4 - An enjoyable and unique action adventure game.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Be sure to collect everything on a level before tackling the guardian as you will not have the opportunity to do so after it is beaten. Combat is likely to be frustrating at first, but stick with it; it will start feel natural after a few rounds.