We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Games software Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Gurk II review


Manufacturer: larva Labs Ltd

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Affectionately hardcore old-school roleplaying on new-fangled Android phones.

Roleplaying games on console and PC are continuing to evolve into adrenaline-fuelled stabathons, which while a treat for our simulated violence-hungry eyes, has left the tactical thinking and even the requirement for imagination of the earliest computer RPGs far behind. Skyrim, amazing achievement though it may be in so many respects - is a very much an example of this. Not too much risk, peppered with elaborate kill animations, full of exposition upon exposition and enemies that scale to your level. It's a game that positively bends over backwards for you.

Gurk II, the paid-for sequel to a minor free hit on Android mobiles, is unashamedly throwback. It's vaguely comparable to early Final Fantasy games - wandering across a quasi-open surface world in real-ish time, interrupted by turn-based battles and occasional boss fights. Beyond-crude graphically and yet its simple scenes of lone-tree forests and static goblins conjure up all they need to - your brain does the rest, extrapolating simple, familiar outlines into a world full of adventure and threat.

Every single encounter, a turn-based battle between your trio of heroes and a random assortment of murderous monsters, is a hugely risky affair. A spot of streamlined chess-like thinking is necessary - get your warrior up front to soak up the worst of the damage, try to predict where the enemy is likely to move to to keep your archer out of harm, keep your wizard in close range of both in case emergency healing is required. Before too long you're conjuring orcs and trolls to even the odds and, well, it grows more elaborate from there. From very humble beginnings, your three characters eventually evolve into gods of turn-based war.

If you want to just rush into every and any fight, you won't last long or get along with Gurk II in the slightest. Take your time, stock up on potions regularly, be prepared for regular failure. And certainly don't charge ahead as if it's an open world, even if it has the appearance of it. Dungeons must be tackled in order or you'll be up against threats you just can't best.

Best played in short, careful bursts, it's impeccably well-suited to a phone, even if it could stand to have tap/gesture based movement instead of the fixed virtual buttons that unattractively take up so much of the screen (especially as you'll find yourself hitting the poorly-placed Save button every time you try to move up and left). Its difficulty perhaps puts it at odds with the casual phone-gaming audience its consciously retro aesthetic suggests it's aimed at, but to be honest that's the refreshing thing about it.

Gurk II

I went in expecting something entirely throwaway, but rapidly end up hunched furrowed-brow over my handset for hours, trying to work out if there was any possible combination of moves, spells and potions that could get me through what looked like an impossible fight. Once I'd begun to master the game's systems and vagaries, I pulled off some pretty astonishing victories, but any resultant complacency meant certain doom awaited in the next fight.

Alas, it's a fairly short-lived affair once you've got to grips with its challenge and given how much time is spent engaging in entirely interchangeable fights and watching the same animations, and there's little point in replaying as new skills are doled out when the game decides it, rather than by any choice of your own. Still, for a mere 60p that's an entirely churlish complaint.

Gurk II Expert Verdict »

  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

A smart, cute and eminently challenging phone RPG that deftly proves mobile gaming doesn't have to mean throwaway casual gaming.

  • Shadowrun Returns review

    Shadowrun Returns

    Dabble in some cyberpunk Tolkien, as an old roleplaying classic makes a confident comeback

  • Winter Voices review

    Winter Voices

    Winter Voices is a unique episodic role-playing game, and we've played the first two chapters. But is it too strange for its own good?

  • Might & Magic Heroes VI review

    Might & Magic Heroes VI

    A new name for Heroes of Might & Magic - but does it spell a return to the strategy-roleplaying series' golden years?

  • Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood review

    Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

    Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was developed for the Nintendo DS by Bioware, a company with a reputation for crafting deep and complex games. It isn't as compelling as previous Bioware efforts, but Sonic Chronicles is a solid role-playing game (RPG).

  • On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness RPG game review

    On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness RPG game

    A mainstay of online gaming culture since its debut, Penny Arcade is now putting its money where its mouth is.

IDG UK Sites

LG G4 Note UK release date and specification rumours: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 killer could be the LG 3......

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 off Retina iMac with new model