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Run Like Hell Review: A Frantic Run-and-Jumper

“Run Like Hell” is a game with a pretty simple premise:  You’re a treasure hunter, stranded on an island and being chased by hungry cannibals.  Your goal, naturally, is to run away from them and end up with some loot rather than in the stew.  It’s a game of roughly the same ilk as “Mirror’s Edge” or “Robot Unicorn Attack,” meaning that the gameplay consists basically of sprinting from left to right while evading obstacles by jumping and sliding.  ”Run Like Hell” features both a story mode and an endless, score attack type of mode.  While it’s not exactly a genre of games that personally gets me jumping out of my chair with excitement, I found this to be a well executed title, with a few minor flaws holding it back from excellence.

Likes

Fast-Paced: This is a fairly simple style of game, so I appreciated Run Like Hell’s speedy gameplay.  Your character really moves like he’s running for his life, which gives things a sense of urgency and makes the gameplay reward finesse.  There are a goodly number of different levels to play through in the story mode, and a significant amount of variety therein, but the levels themselves only take a minute or two to complete.  This gives the game fun, fast-paced gameplay that makes it perfect for quick pick-up-and-play sessions.

Sense of Variety: Although this is basically a game that consists of doing one thing, the level design cleverly adds some variety to the proceedings.  The story mode takes you through jungles, beaches, caverns, ancient ruins, and cannibal villages.  Each set of levels has a distinct look and presents you with unique obstacles to avoid, and once you move on to a new environment the one you just completed is unlocked in endless mode.  The endless mode is really where the game’s replay value comes from in my opinion, and the game does a very impressive job of randomly generating infinite maps in the various environments.  It’s exactly the same gameplay as the story mode, but rather than reaching the end of the level, you run as long as you can before being inevitably captured.  High scores are integrated with both Game Center and OpenFeint, which is a nice touch.  It’s nice to see that the developers made intelligent, creative decisions to mix things up, because this genre of games is simplistic enough in terms of gameplay that I think run-and-jump titles such as these risk becoming quickly repetitive.  But it’s a good thing that Mass Creation has taken steps to avoid this pitfall.

Power-Ups: Another thing I enjoyed that I haven’t gotten around to mentioning until now is the power-ups.  Basically, they come in two varieties:  there is adrenaline, and there are a few types of power-ups which zap your pursuers and make them stagger a little further behind you.  Adrenaline fills up a gauge, and you can use it to run faster and jump higher.  Adrenaline can become very important in some stages, allowing you to get over obstacles more easily or jump a little higher to grab another power-up.  Thankfully, you can juke a little extra speed even when your adrenaline gauge is empty by quickly tapping the button.  I’m not sure if this was an intentional decision on the developer’s part, but it makes it almost unnecessary to go for the risky jumps sometimes required to grab an adrenaline power-up, and I thought I’d share the tip with our readers.

Dislikes

Repetitive: So, how can I simultaneously praise a game’s sense of variety and pan it for being repetitive?  Well, basically it’s not inherently the game’s fault, because Mass Creation have clearly thought about how to squeeze out a good bit of variety from a simple premise.  It’s just an inherent thing about this genre of games, in my opinion.  Those that are way into this type of game are really looking for the smooth execution of a simple premise over an enormous sense of variety or progression anyways, and this game delivers on its basic idea.  However, part of me can’t help but feel that this genre is less of the meat-and-potatoes of gaming, and more like the little candy you grab from a dish and consume in less than a minute.

No Personal Music Support: I think  it’s a little absurd, honestly, that there are still games released on the App Store that don’t allow the user to listen to their own music while they are playing.  This was a bit of a problem for me with Run Like Hell in particular, because the music is not the game’s strongest point.  Each set of environments only has one musical track, which doesn’t take all that long to loop over if you’re playing on endless mode.  I was annoyed to discover that I couldn’t play my own music while playing Run Like Hell, and I can guarantee this game doesn’t demand so much processing power that it would be impossible for the i-Device to do this.

Insensitive?: While all of my friends who I’ve asked (which is not that many because I feel a little lame bringing it up) assure me that this is a non-issue on their political corectness radar, I can’t help but think it’s a little weird that it’s 2010 and we still have video games where the protagonist is a white guy being chased by cannibalistic Pacific Islanders (after having stolen their treasure).  But whatever, I guess…

…Overall, I had a good time with Run Like Hell, and despite my quibbles I could recommend it to fans of the genre.  Don’t necessarily expect anything new, but this is a smoothly animated, fast-paced game with controls that work well.  If this is your type of game, I’d look into it for sure.

Run Like Hell was developed by Mass Creation, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPod touch 2G.  The price is $0.99.




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