Only the adventure begins anew: the same armoured bod, wielding the same weapons, standing at the base of the same castle. Except it's 22 years later, it's your son and he's here to avenge his father, who was avenging his father. And this new hero will most likely die at the blade of the God King, and his son will in turn clamour for his own bloody vengeance, avenging his father who was avenging his father who was avenging his father.
That's some seriously pigheaded stubbornness. That's a genetic war of attrition, throwing generation after generation of sons at the same bad guy, hoping that you'll finally get your revenge for the past hundred years of familial bloodshed. Those are some serious family values, but it's also tenacity to the point of farce. You can't help but giggle when you realise just how many decades have passed, and how many great-grandfathers you're now avenging. The bloodline has run so far, it's barely a trickle any more.
But constantly pitting you against the end boss gives Infinity Blade a carrot-on-a-stick mentality, letting you know that you might just be able to beat this guy with a few more levels, a few more weapons and a few more kids. Each time you fight through the castle and meet up with the God King, the tussle lasts a little longer, and you'll get a few more hits in. You've got better weapons and stronger armour, and you're also a more competent combatant, more accustomed to reading tells and making parries, deciding which attacks to counter and which to dodge. Just one more bloodline and you might get it.
It's addictive stuff, feeling remarkably reminiscent of a creaky old roguelike. But while Infinity Blade is steeped in the conventions of dungeon-crawlers and other such RPGs, the similarities end in combat. You can't explore the gorgeous kingdom, there are no helpful townsfolk to talk to and no sidequests or backtracking. You can poke around your immediate surroundings before each brawl, swinging the camera about to look for hidden money and health, but that's about as far as exploration goes. Otherwise, you simply move from one fight to the next.
Combine that with the whole medieval Groundhog Day thing, and it does makes Infinity Blade alarmingly repetitious. Sure, the enemies get stronger and tougher, you'll tear through more weapons and armour, but you're still going from fight to fight, bloodline to bloodline, laying siege to a never-ending series of evil titans, trolls and assassins.
That's sort of the point, of course. Each time you stare down that God King and bite the dust, you'll be raring to go through the same castle and the same enemies again just to have one more chance against him. And, like flinging birds or landing planes, Infinity Blade's smart, nuanced and thrilling combat very rarely bores.
So get it. Get it because it's ferociously satisfying, well designed and well executed. Get it because it easily reaches far greater heights than a mere tech show-off. In fact, it's so much fun I didn't even feel the need to mention Unreal Engine 3 once. Except there. Damn.
8 / 10
Infinity Blade is available now from the App Store for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third and fourth generation iPod Touch and iPad for Ł3.49 / $5.99.