The art style is bright and colourful

Earlier this week Nintendo Life was cordially invited to Gameloft's London office for a hands-on of their latest adventure for DSiWare, Legends of Exidia, which has now been released in the European shop.

Gameloft is developing something of a reputation as the most ambitious developers in the download market. These platforms tend to attract puzzle games, or simplistic action-type affairs, and it's refreshing to see that Gameloft is bucking this trend by releasing ambitious, story-driven titles for DSiWare. Legends of Exidia is their latest attempt at doing just that.

The game's premise is classic RPG-fare. The peace of Exidia is threatened by an army of demons known as the Morgost, who have invaded Olinor, the kingdom of Princess Sofia, with the sinister ambition of resurrecting the almighty Daraka. Our hero Louis, however, is having none of it and so leaves his village to help Sofia and eliminate the danger threatening the land.

Louis is your hero and playable character. Strapping young lad, eh?

Starting off in the village, your first task will be to familiarise yourself with the control scheme and the locals. Just as soon as you've completed a few basic challenges – and equipped yourself with a sword – you'll be off on your whirlwind adventure. It's at this point you'll realise that Legends of Exidia breaks away from the standard RPG template in several important ways.

First of all, combat is action-oriented rather than turn-based. Defeating your foes will be a case of good timing and nimble movement, balancing sword swipes with magic. Completing quests and killing monsters will net you XP and loot, upping your attack power, defensive abilities and the like. With every level you'll also gain an extra combo move, meaning your swordplay will get gradually more powerful and elaborate as the game progresses. We were able to experience some high-level gameplay and we can report that combat feels suitably satisfying – the room-filling magical fire and lightning storms being a particular highlight.

The hack'n'slash gameplay has a satisfying feel to it

The game also deviates from usual RPG form in that you'll be undergoing your adventure alone. Although at times you must work closely with an AI-controlled friendly character, for the most part you'll be something of a lone wolf.

Although it's hard to draw any firm conclusions from a quick playtest, Legends of Exidia's greatest strength seems to be the pace of its action sequences. Whereas many action-RPGs can become a repetitive slog through identical enemies, in Legends of Exidia we found ourselves scaling towers, dodging falling boulders, sliding down zip-wires and bombing castle-turrets, all within the space of a few minutes. Whether the game is able to maintain this relentless pace throughout remains to be seen, but the sections we played were very impressive in terms of keeping the game moving and fresh.

The game looks to be fairly story-driven, so fingers crossed for a good number of plot-twists and shock revelations. The art is bright and colourful, and the music we heard was suitably legendary-sounding. There's also a massive amount of gear to collect – 69 different weapons and hundreds of various bits of armour, 22 different environments and 25 side quests to keep you occupied. We can't make any confident claims about the length of the game, but from what we've seen it's looking to be pretty substantial.

This is Princess Sofia, from the kingdom of Onlinor and guardian of the Orb of Spell

Oh, and there's some DSi camera support thrown in for good measure, should you fancy seeing your face in various places throughout the game-world.

All things considered, it's looking very promising indeed, and priced at 800 points, this could very well prove a worthy purchase. Exidia was released today in Europe - stay tuned for the full review.