Developer: Douglas Cowley
Platforms: IOS Universal
When I first saw Hoplite in a thread on Toucharcade forums, I was intrigued by the name but then saw the screenshots and passed it by, assuming it was some kind of hex-based strategy/RTS game. And now I know that was my mistake, but also almost accurate. Hoplite is certainly strategic, and tactical, and deep, but it's also the best turn-based roguelike I've played on IOS since Aaron Steed's Ending.
Like Ending, Hoplite could best be described as roguelike with chess elements. But while Ending sported a chess-like aesthetic, Hoplite tasks you with descending into the lava- and demon-filled depths to retrieve the Fleece and return alive. You are alone, and outnumbered, and can only take four hits before succumbing to death. However, you are not helpless.
Hoplite's gameplay is where the chess vibe emerges. You tap on a square to move there. Tapping on enemies reveal their range of fire and movement, and enemies move when you move. Careful planning and awareness of where and how enemies can move and attack is your key to survival. You can stab enemies on your diagonals or lunge at those in front of you. You can leap over tiles or throw your spear (but then you have to pick it back up). You can use your shield to bash enemies away or into lava or knock bombs away. You can pray at various altars (Ares, Athena, etc.) to gain stats buffs and special abilities, like greater throw range, an arcing shield bash, or magic, but this also ups the game's difficulty, so you must weight the reward of greater tactical freedom over greater challenge. Get careless, get cocky, forget to watch your ability cooldowns or your enemies' locations, and your health will be quickly chipped away.
Hoplite is a fantastic little game that could so easily be overlooked and forgotten but that would a shame for such a tough and tactical gem. The developer hopes to add more quests, but that all depends on how the game does on the App Store. You can purchase Hoplite for $1.99.