Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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A couple of months back, I took a look at SplitCell’s first game for iOS, HexSweep. Now they’ve released their second offering: an endless runner called TwistedRun. Is it worth testing your reflexes again on yet another unending treadmill? Let’s find out, shall we?
I do feel that the endless runner genre is a bit difficult to truly iterate or improve on in any real, substantial way. I’m not saying it can’t be done; it’s just that the core formula is so constrained by its very nature. Being locked to a constantly scrolling playing field, the speed of which you generally have no control over at all, leaves precious little room for adding additional systems or elements. Typically, all of the clock cycles of the players brain are devoted to keeping reflexes sharp for either avoiding obstacles, seeking out score/power-up objects, or, more commonly, both. The only real place that most endless runners can differentiate themselves from one another is in their theme or visual style.
Thankfully, TwistedRun’s look is both a strong and interesting one; everything is smooth, geometrical, and slightly abstract, with a vaguely ethereal feel to it. The atmosphere is simultaneously easygoing and as tensely coiled as the giant corkscrewing track spiraling skyward that the game takes its name from. Both the silhouetted runner and the constant, encouraging text prompts definitely resonate with echoes of exercise and fitness apps. It’s a strange marriage of mood and style, but it certainly works.
Controls are limited to simple directional swipes. It works pretty effortlessly, and while there’s no virtual d-pad there is an option to switch from swipes to directional arrows to tap. This may work better on an iPhone where the screen is much smaller, but on the iPad these arrows were spaced too far apart to make them a very viable control option, to say nothing of the fact that sometimes certain taps just wouldn’t register. But when using the swipes, it’s a case of simple controls executed well.
Power-ups hanging overhead are claimed by jumping through them. I discovered this quite by accident, as the game doesn’t offer much in the way of explanation. I initially thought they were some sort of progress markers. My only other complaint is that, beyond style alone, TwistedRun doesn’t really do a lot to differentiate itself from the rest of the virtual marathon of runner games in the App Store.
TwistedRun has a striking look, which is important, but for just once I would like to see some ingenious designer really find a way to shake up this genre and show us something new.