Endless Runners are a pox upon the mobile market. They’re common, they’re easy, and who cares? Except once in a while they’re done right, like JetPack Joyride, or Temple Run (so I hear). Basically you run as far as you can, avoiding an increasing amount of obstacles, and trying to reach a new maximum distance. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Run, avoid, reach. Sometimes you collect coins. It’s sort of done to death.
And then there’s this game, from PikPok, which is different. It’s just as simple, has just as many zombies, and has weapon pickups that allow you to briefly get your revenge in the same way we’ve been doing since PacMan’s power pills.
What’s compelling about this game are the graphics. It’s grey, moody, done well, and very nearly makes you feel like you really were in that crashed helicopter, and you really are running for your life.
It’s free, you can in-app buy money to skip challenges (which you must beat to reach new levels), but these are easily achieved and you get the shotgun, and later the rifle, pretty easily.
The problem is, it doesn’t last. After the first half dozen levels the challenges stop, and the chores begin. At the start, you need to kill five enemies with the chainsaw. Well, sure, no problem! Random weapon drops at the start are easy – there’s a 50% chance it’s a chainsaw in that box, so let’s kick ass. But a few levels later you’ve got seven weapons available, and a one-in-seven chance you’ll get the one you need to kill 20 zombies to pass the challenge… And the damn thing only comes with four shots. So, doing the math, you have to get the 1-in-7 weapon five times and never miss. ARGH, no thanks.
It controls well, looks good, it’s free, and it’s fun. For half an hour, or an hour. And then, like most mobile games, you keep it around for a while and play it now and then out of some sense of obligation, until finally you delete it for the next one.