Thanks to frighteningly ubiquitous smartphones, endless runners have become quite literally a dime a dozen. However, rather than attempting to separate itself from this pack, Run Like Hell! embraces its heritage, taking some serious cues from popular titles in the well-worn genre. But does its adherence to tradition see it take out first place, or should it have spent a few more years in training?
The gameplay in Mass Creation’s latest is exactly as you’d expect. You’ll be constantly hurtling to the right, attempting to outrun a group of angry island savages. Along your travels, you’ll encounter all manner of inconveniently placed logs and totem poles that’ll require precisely timed jumps in order to surmount. What’s more, successfully sliding under low hanging platforms is key to escape.
If you ever make a mistake, however, you won’t simply die immediately; rather, you’ll be docked a few precious seconds, which can only be regained through perfect performance. Power-ups are also littered throughout the levels which allow you to either speed up your own movement, or slow down your attackers. These athletic aids help to balance the difficulty, while also adding a neat, if slight, layer of strategy.
There is certainly fun to be had with these simple mechanics. Indeed, timing a jump so that your intrepid hero rolls perfectly onto the top of a platform is incredibly satisfying. However, the controls aren’t always appropriately fine-tuned for the task. While you’ll certainly never feel like you don’t have proper control over the action, the whole exercise does feel a bit sluggish.
What’s more, the levels in the title’s campaign mode are all much too long for their own good, with some of the worst offenders taking up to two minutes to complete. This is compounded by a lack of diversity, which often makes it difficult to tell which section of a stage you’re playing. Ultimately, it’s a fool’s errand to attempt to remember the layout of the challenges, so replaying them constantly makes the title’s campaign a brief, but still painful, exercise in frustration.
In short, the fleeting moments of momentum-based mirth are far outweighed by the otherwise overwhelmingly rage-inducing runs. However, in many ways, the endless arcade mode fixes a lot of these issues. The randomly generated levels give the platforming more room to breathe, and also mean that you’re not stuck repeating unmemorable sections for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, the overall lack of variety is still glaringly obvious; ducking under the exact same set of platforms gets very old, very quick.
The title also features an online mode that sees you competing against other runners. This is a remarkably robust feature, which includes both a catch-all versus style game, as well as daily and weekly challenges. Surprisingly, competing against other players can be quite fun. However, the competitive cacophony can sometimes get a little crowded, making it difficult to tell which of the runners you should be paying attention to. While there are several other characters – unlockable through an in-game currency – it can still be quite difficult to properly get your bearings in this mode.
From a presentational standpoint, the game is entirely adequate. The graphics are bright, bold, and have a pleasant cartoony charm, with short animated story sections providing a nice context for the action. Similarly, the soundtrack – which consists almost entirely of tribal drum beats – does a relatively good job of emphasising the fast pace, but is unlikely to be remembered once you put the system down.
Run Like Hell! is alarmingly close to being a competent endless runner. However, a lack of diversity coupled with a frequently frustrating campaign mode means that it never really transcends the ubiquitous genre. Its pleasant presentation and relatively enjoyable online mode just aren’t enough to make up for its bland mechanics and pedestrian platforming.