Combining twin stick shooter mechanics with a top-down hack and slash game might seem like an odd mix but in Axolotl Studios' RPG lite "The Relic" these two gameplay elements are successfully combined to provide a chunky, cheap and cheerful action title.
Fans of Gauntlet or rogue-style dungeon crawlers will instantly identify with The Relic's core gameplay. Cast as a hapless brutish barbarian with a little magic knowledge, Thrudd (if the central character doesn't have a name we'll give him one) pitches sheer strength and battle prowess against a seemingly unending horde of enemies.
The game's fairly cheesy and seems to veer from a rock-solid framerate to pretty damned terrible when things get busy on screen (though your mileage may vary depending on what flavour of iOS platform you're running).
Controls wise, The Relic needs some serious work. Action buttons are tiny and fiddly (though I'm guessing iPad owners can luxuriously tap away to their hearts' content, iPod and iPhone owners might find things a bit of an awkward squeeze). The on-screen joypad for directional movement also feels a little laggy - though it's difficult to describe exactly. Remember those old pinchy joysticks from the 8-bit era that seemed to lock your movements to four axis only? Feels a lot like those.
Elsewhere The Relic isn't the most impressive looking game you could run on your iPhone. Graphics are functional and though it's refreshing to see a game absolutely pile on a vast number of enemies, things can get a little fussy and too busy in big scraps where you're backed into a corner.
Collecting kills and scores offers a little RPG-lite to go with the manic action on offer here. The more kills you rack up, the more experience points you'll get to spend on weapon upgrades, magical abilities and spells. Powerups can also be collected, scattered around the game's simple labyrinthine layouts.
Essentially the game descends into a bit of a grind the more you play, but if you're after cheap gory action thrills it's not exactly expensive. It's yours for the modest sum of 59p.
Social gaming gadflys are catered for with Chillingo's Crysal Social Gaming Platform (no game centre support as yet) but it remains to be seen whether you'll want to keep playing past the initial few levels, alas.