Enyo is the name of a lesser-known Greek Goddess of war, sometimes portrayed as an aspect of Ares and responsible for the sacking of cities and the fall of culture. This mobile title puts you in her sandals as you hook, jump and shield bash your way to victory.
Essentially a RogueLight, Enyo started life as the German based development house, Tinytouchtales’ entry into the 7 Day RogueLike contest under the title ‘Hook & Shield’ (which can still be played for free online and can be found HERE). Whilst the game has undergone a great deal of visual polish since that time, in collaboration with artist Winnie Song, the core gameplay remains essentially unchanged, bringing a sense of linear progression through randomly generated trial screens.
Graphically, Enyo uses an interesting 2D semi-silhouette style that brings to mind the freezes on ancient Greek pottery. There’s a cartoon-illustration style to the world, as seen through this filter and it makes the whole game pop visually on the screen. Animations are fluid and slightly over-exaggerated to allow for the small sprite size and allow for them to emote effectively, and environments, thought limited in scenery, look beautiful and conform to a grid-based structure. Buttons and touch interface are extremely well implemented and the game does an excellent job of running your through the basics in an easy to understand manner before throwing you into the main game, with text that’s easy to understand and read on smaller screens.
Featuring a synth soundtrack that was composed by Craig Barnes, Enyo has some excellent music on display that’s designed to set the lonely and tense tone of the game. That said, moving past the title screen sees the actual pace of the music speed up considerably to ensure that a vibrant feeling of adventure is always driving you forward. In tone it feels like a ‘Prince of Persia’ title rather than ‘Clash of the Titans’ but the ambience is greatly appreciated and little moments in the score help to make it stand out. Sound effects are a little heavy on the synth side, but they have the required dramatic weight and sense of heightened world to really hammer home smacking into a Minotaur at full speed and sending it spiralling into lava.
The story of Enyo sees you step into the sandals of the minor Goddess of War as part of a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Why Jason and the crew of the Argo haven’t been drafted for this adventure is never explained, but we join her as she descends through ten arena-like random stages before completing her goal. It’s incredibly story-light but does gain bonus points for drawing on obscure Ancient Greek mythology, which is always good to see. Monsters are similarly drawn from the same sources and act in accordance with the legends that surround them, which means that understanding your myths will give you a leg-up when attempting to work out enemy actions and patterns. The game deliberately doesn’t give you any enemy information, making it a learning curve every time you meet a new type, so knowing your legends certainly helps.
Gameplay is the meat of the experience here and whilst the game is essentially a ten-screen dash to kill everything and descend to the next floor it’s likely most players will never see the finale. Enyo is hard. Very hard. I’d go so far to say it’s one of the more challenging games on mobile at the moment and it balances its challenges in such a manner that you’ll never have anyone but yourself to blame for your losing, the developers have given you the tools and opportunity to succeed, but you’ll need to make each and every one of them work just right in order to do so. The arenas you enter have a random selection of walls, spiked surfaces, monsters and lava pits. These are as deadly to you as to monsters, but it’s your job to make each and every one of them skewer or fall into them to clear the screen and unlock an exit. You have four commands available in order to do so, a standard ‘Shield Bash’ that sees you charge in a straight line, possibly shunting an enemy along with you if you’re lucky. A ‘Hook’ that pulls enemies directly toward you, the ability to ‘Throw’ your shield, knocking an enemy from a distance but robbing you of it for bashing until its collected, and finally a ‘Stun Leap’ that allows you to break the direct-line movement scheme and stun those around you, but loses its stun effect after you have done so. These are all the moves the game provides and you will be facing enemies of many kinds, some of which hover over lava pits and force you to use the spiked walls instead, whilst others (like the Minotaur) charge you on line-of-sight and shunt you back with considerable power. Interaction sees you dragging a finger from your heroine to where you want to go/what you want to hit, and this works well on an iPad sized tablet but suffers from being a very small and inaccurate grid on smaller phone-like devices and can cause from frustration. Hit a wall or pit and you’re instantly killed, but these monsters can also whittle your three hit points down too with attacks and bombs. The game is entirely turn based, so you can take the time to think about each move, and triangular runes exist on-screen that shunt anything that touches them in a one-square direction that matches their angle, making them key to solving some puzzles. It’s really a lesson in simplicity and hardcore design. Death will ask if you want to pay to retry or start over, and the game has a one-time purchase mode to remove ads forever, which also serves to pay the developers for their hard work, but the overall game is entirely free.
If you don’t like a serious challenge this game won’t be for you, neither should you approach it with the impression that it’s a traditional RogueLike. There are no stats to boost nor items and loot to equip here, rather the game takes randomly generated levels as its inspiration before shooting off to do its own thing. If you can stick with it past a few initial areas, and cope with the games sometimes annoying movement detection on smaller screens, you’ll find an excellent experience in Enyo.