American McGee and Spicy Horse Games have just launched The Gate on iOS and the wait was worth it. They have created an app that stands tall above other card collecting and tournament fighting games by using real time strategy elements and crafting an experience that’s fun and extremely addictive. The look of The Gate is amazing and uses 3D elements to highlight layers that make each level organic and fluid. There is always something in motion whether it be a burning indicator selecting your level or a flurry of snow swirling around a frozen stage. The first thing this game has going for it is the look, and it is cool.

The gameplay is simple. Get through the easy and informative tutorial and start collecting fighters to send into deathmatches. The story is quick and to the point. You are in Hell and the only thing you can do is fight. You can pit your warriors against the computer or you can enter the arena and be part of biweekly tournaments that reward users with rare character cards. The interface is easy and well designed. You earn cards, upgrade characters and send them into the ring. Even the perspective has you looking down into the pits of Hell to see matches as if you were some omnipotent being directing chaos.

The world map is divided into four lands and each contain twenty levels. As you progress you earn experience and gain powers and abilities while you manage your fighters called disciples. Your disciples will challenge a variety of melee fighters, summoners and healers. Fire will rain down from the sky as special moves are selected. You can control the board by dragging your finger from each fighter to an enemy and selecting when an ability can be used, or you can click the auto button to let them all run wild until you win or die. It all depends on your strategy and how you want to win.

thegate2The arena tournaments are very brutal and usually fast. If the world mode were a marathon, the arena would be a sprint. Players from around the globe put their four best warriors against yours. These matches earn you a lot of game currency that can be used for power ups, advanced abilities and more characters. To upgrade a fighter, you can sacrifice other lower level disciples, use “devil’s blood” to boost stats or evolve the character by assimilating another card of the same kind. The result is that you eventually develop a team of hell fighters that can take on even the nastiest monsters and demons in the abyss.

American McGee is well known for his ability to craft a brilliant dark vision and The Gate delivers amazing art and design in spades. The characters are all unique and while some are humanoid, there is no shortage of rock monsters, bone warriors, slime spewing slugs and evil warlords to be found. The demonic fantasy world on display here is very engaging and even the soundtrack sets a perfect tone for doomed battles in hellish wastelands. Just the style alone is worth the free download and playing through the game world is easy as you are able to explore once levels are unlocked.

One issue that can affect gameplay is the need for a data connection. If you don’t have a signal, you don’t play. The game will stick on the loading screen and you will have to wait until you connect to a service provider or wi-fi. That minor problem however is fairly common in the app store and will only affect a small number of users so no worries. You can even load your profile for the game and have it link to other mobile devices. You can use your iPhone, put it down and pick right up on your iPad without missing a beat. It’s a great feature of a game that I highly recommend as one of the best new apps available. Check it out.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars