My latest iPad purchase seemed pretty dubious—$2.99 based on a couple of strange screenshots and an app icon featuring a business shirt covered in bloody pawprints. As it turns out, my investment in The Executive was smart money.

The tale of a business executive who must defend his business and eventually entire city from a supernatural invasion, The Executive feels like the sort of game Japan’s Goichi Suda of Killer7 fame would create were he into mobile games. Instead it’s the creation of brothers Jacob and Paul Stevens of Riverman Media, a duo dedicated to the art of 2D gaming.

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That dedication shines in their latest iOS effort, a combination of Street Fighter-style fighting, timed-swipe platforming and, oddly enough, mining simulation. As the titular management figure players must tap-battle their way through 150 hand-crafted game levels, defeating enemies and earning money used to purchase and upgrade powers and invest in the company in order to increase profits.

Each level is a mixture of fighting and platforming. Battles are simple one-finger affairs—tap and hold your character to block, tap the enemy either high or low to attack. As the money begins pouring in you can unlock special powers and skills in order to help heal your character or hurt the odd procession of animal-based adversaries. Eventually you’ll be kicking creatures on fire and transforming your limbs into silver spikes.

Platforming consists of simple timed swipes to jump over obstacles, wall climb, flip and smash your way through a wide variety of environments, starting with the obligatory office building and getting stranger and stranger as the levels progress. I’m pretty sure the last level I completed was a homage to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

After each level your performance is graded and cash awarded based on that grade. Money can be used to upgrade and purchase skills, while the “Mining” tab allows players to invest in employees and business assets, increasing the cash flow associated with actions like blocking or attacking. It makes a strange sort of sense—obviously whatever the company was doing beforehand is no longer sustainable, what with all the werecreatures running about, so it’s time to diversify.

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I wanted to record a video to go along with this app review, but after spending an hour searching for the tiny white dongle that allows me to do so I gave up. Instead, here’s an extended look at the game in action, courtesy of IGV Ios Gameplay Videos.

The Executive is the sort of mobile game that magnetically draws the finger every time you open up your iDevice. Since its launch and my purchase of it on Thursday I can’t open up my iPad without at least playing a quick level.

Sleek, stylish and savage, The Executive is exactly the sort of premium game I’m hoping for when I open up the App Store every week. It’s a brilliant amalgamation of classic concepts that’s dressed to impress—and it certainly does.

The Executive

  • Genre: Platforming beat-em up.
  • Developer: Riverman Digital
  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: $2.99 (currently on sale, regular price $4.99)
  • In-app Purchases: None