In our ‘Best Xbox games of 2012’ feature, I named the sole Xbox-branded RPG Final Fantasy as one of the year’s finest. This year we have the very RPG-like strategy game Skulls of the Shogun to look forward to, but another Xbox RPG seems unlikely at present. Thankfully an indie developer has come along to fill the void with Doom & Destiny from HeartBit Interactive. Previously available as an Xbox Live Indie Game on 360, Windows Phone gamers can take the game with them on the go…. And for free (at the moment)!

Check out our initial impressions and hands-on video after the break.

Meta game

Doom and Destiny no traps

Doom & Destiny starts out with four young males gathering at a friend’s house to play a pen-and-paper role-playing game. After finding the front door locked, the take the back entrance and discover a dungeon containing a mysterious RPG book. This dungeon transports them to a world filled with monsters, lava, and other fantasy tropes.

Where the story heads after that, I cannot say just yet. Maybe it never gets serious, as the dialogue text so far has been totally silly. Already I’ve run across pop culture references to Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The writing overflows with clever jokes, but it also suffers from an abundance of grammatical and spelling errors (see one in the picture below) that pull discerning players out of the story. Hopefully the script gets fixed in a future update.

Old is new again

Doom and Destiny complains error
Hint: 'complains' is not the right word there.

HeartBit’s role-playing game may be a recent creation, but it could easily pass for a beautiful Super SNES title. The art style perfectly captures the look of 16-bit RPGs (including Final fantasy), with colorful and detailed sprites and razor sharp character portraits accompanying all the dialogue. It even boasts some advanced lighting effects that older consoles probably couldn’t have handled. As for the music, it perfectly matches the game’s slightly-better-than retro appearance.

Control freak

Doom and Destiny battle slime face

Before it even gets to the story, Doom & Destiny opens with an interactive tutorial that explains the controls. As you would expect, your left thumb controls movement while the right handles interaction and menus. But instead of a fixed virtual stick like Final Fantasy, this game creates a temporary stick wherever you place your thumb. It feels less precise and responsive than it should, but perhaps some tweaking in the options will fix that.

As for interactions, swiping your right thumb to the left brings up the in-game menu at any time. After that, single thumb taps select things. Sliding to the right cancels and backs out of menus. I’d still prefer a fixed menu button, but the left- and right-sliding works surprisingly well. HeartBit showed a lot of heart by going the extra mile with a unique control scheme when porting the 360 game to Windows Phone.

Slight incompatibility

Doom and Destiny rope
Push aside this statue to discover a hidden path...

Doom & Destiny runs on both Windows Phone 7 and 8, but suffers from a bit of crashing on 8. According to an interview at WP7 Connect, this is caused by a memory-related bug. The developers already plan to fix the problem, so it won’t be around for long. In the meantime, remember to save often! Do this by left-sliding to open the menu and selecting the Save option.

The price is right

Doom & Destiny costs 400 MS Points/$5 on Xbox 360, but the Windows Phone version is currently free! Apparently the devs plan to start charging for it after the memory issue gets patched out, so grab it while the getting’s good.

Pick up Doom & Destiny here at the Windows Phone Store and face your destiny.

Thanks to Theaddict for the tip; via WP7 Connect

QR: Doom and Destiny