Developer: Wonderwood Games
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s always interesting when a developer tries something new in an established genre. It may not always work out as planned, but they definitely deserve credit for trying. Wonderwood Games has certainly tried, and they do indeed deserve credit for it, but Muscle Run is going to need some tweaking if it’s going to have a shot at leaving its peers in the dust.

musclerun03It may look like another shiny new iOS racing game, but there’s more to Muscle Run than that. It’s actually an endless runner (okay, driver). Players can take their ride out for a spin in the “Story” mode, which is really just a collection of challenges spread across a few different road layouts/lighting conditions, but is also a good way to each cash. Cash which can then be spent on upgrades, paint jobs, and buying more cars. Or they can go for an endless drive, and try to last as long as they can while grabbing power-ups and weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds. There are a wealth of control options available that include tilt, touch, and swipe varieties, but I found the default tilt/auto acceleration option to be just fine.

Despite its humble origins, Muscle Run is a surprisingly good-looking game for the most part. The other vehicles on the road aren’t quite as detailed as the drivable cars, sure, but the lighting is nice, and the environments look good and blend well together. Simply dodging between cars at 90+ mph while racking up bonuses for near-misses and driving in the oncoming traffic lane is also quite enjoyable in itself, but now players can do it on procedurally generated stretches of virtual highway for practically limitless amounts of replayability.

musclerun12Sadly, Muscle Run doesn’t feel finished yet. Some significant improvements have been made since its initial release (the screen won’t go into sleep mode during gameplay anymore), but there are still plenty of other issues. Stuff like power-ups that don’t really stand out amongst each other and can often be misread, a general lack of helpful power-up descriptions both in-game and in the help menu, and a pause button that’s situated in the top center of the screen rather than in a corner. Which makes pausing a bit of a hassle, naturally. My biggest gripe at the moment, however, is the crash physics. I’m fine with losing momentum and all that, but the other vehicles have a tendency stick to my car and can be incredibly difficult (and irritating) to shake off.

Muscle Run isn’t “there” just yet, but it’s making progress. As-is it’s a decent but rough endless runner/driver, but it’s already received a number of improvements and it’s only been out a week. I’d say keep an eye on it.

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