Version Reviewed: 1.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
While a good endless runner in its own right, Riot Runners is really worth checking out for its gorgeous graphics alone. Those visuals seem to have come at the cost of tighter controls, but the trade-off isn’t a fatal flaw, just a slight annoyance.
Cute little rebel robots living under an oppressive regime are making a mad dash for freedom and players have to help. While Riot Runners may not have the most elaborate or text-heavy plot, its intricately detailed world does a great job of establishing the steam/cyberpunk atmosphere. Backgrounds are mostly limited to black and white silhouettes giving the minimal uses of colors - like blue spikes or red eye visors - even more impact. The monochrome style, with lots of soft light and depth of field, may remind players of Limbo, World of Goo, Contre Jour, or one of Tim Burton’s early and less creatively bankrupt dark fairy tales. But it also features a whimsical yet industrial sci-fi look along the lines of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet or the animated film 9. Whatever its inspirations are though, the game spectacularly executes on this visual style making each run feel like another descent into a sad, living, moving world set to a trance-like ambient techno soundtrack.
Once the glow of the visuals wears off though, and that takes time, Riot Runners is still a mostly enjoyable endless runner. Players tap to jump and double-jump their robot over obstacles and into coins. They can buy temporary power-ups like shields or rockets and make use of helpful in-level fixtures like boost pads or air tunnels to propel them further towards salvation. As players finish missions and complete better, longer runs they level-up; allowing them to purchase new playable robots. These robots have special attributes like smaller bodies or faster engines and their charming designs give the game even more personality.
If Riot Runners has any serious shortcomings though, it’s that the controls just feel ever so slightly off. Tapping on the screen to jump or double-jump feels fast and reliable about 80 percent of the time. However, during that other 20 percent taps either never register or are so delayed that death seems inevitable, especially once fast moving saw blades and other obstacles start cropping up. Certain level layouts tend to repeat, so players can practice and improve. But the occasional control hiccups are just frequent enough to be frustrating.
Regardless, Riot Runners is a splendid visual showcase only held back by intermittently loose controls. It’s good, great even, but disappointingly shy of fantastic; a qualified success.