Xibalba – Smells like Doom

Xibalba translates to “Place of Fear” and if you also have no idea what it is then know that it is the word used to describe the Mayan underworld, sounds pretty cool right? Well it wasn’t the reason I picked up Xibalba but now that I know that, it certainly makes the setting seem about right.

Xibalba is a shooter and like many others, my experience of that genre on the iPad has been less than satisfactory. I wept when I heard that Bioshock was to make a debut on the app store, as while I want as many people to play that game as possible, I can think of any thing worse than having to play a AAA shooter with a touchpad, let along Bioshock! But we are not here for Bioshock and the fact of the matter is that Xibalba is one of the very few shooter on iPad that I completed and am very pleased to announce, I had fun with.

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So how does it do it? Well Xibalba keep things simples, again a seemly easy thing to do that many games seem to forget. With only the ability to look left, right, change weapon, reload and fire, Xibalba works well with the touch pad and I found the iPad mini the perfect device to try it out on. Still can’t picture it? Well thing of the original Doom and you can’t go far wrong.

Graphically, Xibalba feels very like Doom as well. Continuing on the theme here of utilising the devices, Xibalba’s graphics have a pixel art style that means you aren’t constantly judging it for its lack of definition or realism. Swapping from a jungle, temple ruins and even a futuristic environments you get a sense of change while playing through levels. However, due to this graphic style you can sometimes get lost, and while exploring the maps is all part of the fun, the levels can sometimes blend in together, narrowing that sense of adventure.

But what is a shooting game without the weapons? Well you start the game equipped with a laser rifle and all the more fun for it. The laser gun has unlimited ammo but it does require charging so don’t plan on holding the trigger forever. You will soon find more guns as you go through the map and will end up with a shotgun, very powerful but limited to only two shells and a rocket launched that packs a whollop, but I wouldn’t want to be standing near the explosion. Swapping between these three make for some tactical gameplay as you come up against a few varieties of enemy you will have to take down. At the end of the game there is also a boss that you can just get the rocket launcher out and go crazy!

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While the there is a story, it is told through poetic dialog at the end of each level that to be honest, doesn’t make much sense. If you’re looking for a story driven shooter then this is not the game for you, however, if you want to pick up and play a shooter that actually works on the tablet and will also provide you with a challenge, then Xibalba is perfect for you. At the end of the day, I still wanted more after I had completed it and I hope that more comes in the future.