Dungeon Hunter 4 (iOS|Android) is the latest installment from Gameloft's popular hack-and-slash RPG franchise, and it gets a lot of things right but may discourage some with an aggressive in-app purchase model.
All the right ingredients
As hack-and-slash Diablo-like RPGs go, Dungeon Hunter is one of the best franchises in the genre for smartphones. Set in a medieval fantasy setting, you'll be charged with picking from four character classes, then fighting your way through hordes of demons. You can choose from two ranged classes that include a bow-wielding Sentinel or a spell-casting Warmage. On the melee side you can be standard knight called a Battleworn, or a two-weapon-wielding Blademaster. Each of the classes have separate skill trees with unique attacks and passive enhancements that give the game replay value as you try each class.
Dungeon Hunter 4 follows a mostly linear storyline with quests that move you through the game. While you can explore the map that's available to you, parts will be blocked off until you complete your current quest chain. There are also side-quests you'll find on your journey, but they tend to revolve around either defending an NPC against several enemies, or going into a small dungeon (that's the same wherever you are) and defeating the enemies there. But even with the somewhat repetitive side quests, different themed areas give you some variation while you explore.
To succeed in Dungeon Hunter 4, you'll need to constantly upgrade your character as well as the weapons and clothing you find. Every time your hero levels up, you'll be able to spend a skill point on your class skills. One of the Sentinel's power attacks, for example, shoots three arrows at once, and the more points you have in that skill, the more damage it will do. How you spend your points can make or break your character, so focusing on specific powers makes a huge difference in the game.
The game uses a gem system for upgrading weapons and armor. You'll find items that have available open slots where you can place the same shaped gem. Gems give you bonuses to attack damage, add fire damage, and other elemental attack types, along with healing and mana-replenishing abilities. Just like skills, how well you survive out in the world also relies on how you enhance your items with the right balance of attacking and defensive attributes.
To add still another common RPG element, you can craft items with elemental stones you find in the world. Unfortunately, the stones are few and far in between, so even crafting your first weapon will be when you are well into the game.