Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Track Lapse is a weird game. It’s something of an endless runner – well, it has fixed levels, but it’s still a “character running forward without stopping” game. The runner in this one is literally a runner, a man running for fitness, with no shirt and an mp3 player. He’s also prone to hallucinations, as on his run he finds himself in very strange places, like what appears to be a volcano, and a disco where he must either jump over or moonwalk past characters in his way. He can sprint to go faster, but this drains more health when he takes damage from obstacles.
Track Lapse’s concept doesn’t seem that weird, but there’s just something about the way it’s so persistent with it, that the protagonist keeps imagining odd new scenarios, that makes it feel weirder than it really is. It’s an interesting experience to see what’s next, from discos to zombies to fiery hellscapes.
The problem is that the levels are never really all that, well…interesting. There are few moments that are frustrating when to figure out, but otherwise, it just winds up being a few set pieces in each section over and over again. Endless runners tend to work because failure is a constant threat, and starting over from the beginning with a reset high score is what happens. However, with the levels with multiple checkpoints that can be restarted multiple times, there is no threat of failure.
Run Roo Run shows how this formula can work: by having short, engaging sections with the challenge coming from difficult timing windows, but being short levels that are quick to restart. This just feels like how this type of game should not be done. Adding in a limited lives mechanic or fewer checkpoints would just be annoying. The faults are with the concept itself. The way that double jumping keeps resetting speed, and how double damage is always taken when sprinting just make the game more frustrating to play and tend to break up the pace of the game. This is as opposed to what a good gameplay mechanic should do: enhance and value to the game, making it more enjoyable to play.
While Track Lapse is weird, that isn’t really enough to make it a good recommendation. This is only for those that like endless runners but like fixed levels, and/or those who like their games weird and quirky.