Infinity Runner is a game of two minds. It’s a bit like Marmite, you’ll love it or you’ll hate it. On one hand it’s brilliant in what it attempts to achieve. A consolized variation of Temple Run that seeks to make use of additional game mechanics designed for a control pad. On the other hand however, it’s a consolized variation of Temple Run that fails miserably when adapted to the big screen and designed for a control pad.
That’s not to say I hate it, but as to whether or not I actually like it. I’m honestly not sure that’s a question I can answer. The bigger question here and arguably one of more relevance, who is this game catered towards? Mobile gamers who want Temple Run on a console? Or console gamers who want a fleshed-out mobile game? It would appear that Infinity Runner fails to attract both. The premise of the game is simple. Interacting with the game through a first-person-perspective and On-rails gameplay, the player is required to sway left and right via the use of the analog sticks, and leap over obstacles using the D-pad. While these mechanics work well in mobile games which make use of touch-screen interactivity, the D-pad doesn’t fair so well.
In an attempt to integrate something meaningful to justify it’s gameplay, Infinity Runner actually has a plot and it’s bad. The player takes the role of a werewolf in space and must escape the spaceship they’ve been held captive on. That’s really all there is to it. Being guided by an unknown woman who appears from time to time on a heads-up display, helps to fill in the game’s backstory. But since this character provides nothing of interest and is merely just a hints and tips system for how to navigate the character and overcome challenges, it does more in contradicting it’s gameplay than being of actual interest.
It’s essentially a poorly written science-fiction drama that one would expect from a 1980s UK television show. Airing past the hours of midnight while everybody’s fast asleep. The game tries to present something that’s significant and mysterious to the player, but that’s where the first problem in the game resides. As my guess here is that players who are planning to pick this title up, aren’t looking for something that’s so deep and consequential with an interesting backstory. None of which this game actually has. These players are looking for a time-killer.
The second problem lies within the game’s identity, it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. Promotional material and pricing would suggest it’s a quick arcade game. Designed as a time killer until the next big Triple-A release. The game’s story mode however, clearly suggests otherwise. The game tries so hard to be taken seriously but in doing so, it just comes of as a desperate Temple Run knock-off that adds nothing new or noteworthy to the core gameplay mechanics that’s actually of valuable discussion.
Infinity Runner attempts to invoke the intensity of Mirror’s Edge and combine it with the core mechanics of an endless runner from the mobile platform. Laughably so. Where Infinity Runner tries to extend upon the game mechanics most common to games of this type, comes in the form of quick-time-events. While running through the repetitive and monotonous hallways of the game’s dark and dull spaceship, players will come across armed guards that seek to take them down.
Through the use of a stylized slow-motion camera, the player is required to input a series of buttons that will disarm and cripple these enemies before continuing to run. The issue I found with this implementation is that it breaks the flow of the game. Having to run faster and faster, tuning your reflexes to accommodate the challenges that the game presents, only to come across short and arguably pointless enemy encounters ruins what little the game actually has going for it. Which is challenge.
Although the game paints itself in a fairly bland and dark aesthetic that fails to make use of it’s Science fiction background. It does provide a fair amount of challenge and it works well, when it works. The basics of player movement consist of sliding, leaping, running along walls and zip-lining down ropes. And this can be enjoyable but since the game feels plagued by interruptions, it makes it hard to do so. Along with frequent glitches, inconsistent frame rates, and a persistent side-character that constantly distracts the player with story mode filler and child’s play tutorials, Infinity Runner is difficult to enjoy.
Due to the game’s on-screen display which takes an old-school arcade aesthetic consisting of a timer, number of player lives, and collectible power-ups which are gained as the player navigates through the levels. The use of one-hit kills should the player run in to an object or fail at quick time events, does give the game a leg to stand on. It’s just a shame that other aspects of it’s gameplay let it down.
Primarily of which is the game’s tutorial system. Continuously hand-holding the player for the most basics of it’s controls, only to reward the player with an achievement for doing so is frankly absurd. The core mechanics of the game is based on providing challenge, yet it rewards the player for doing nothing. There’s a fine line between being so insanely ridiculous that it doesn’t need to make any sense, to that of a game being so ridiculous that it fails to make sense of the principles in which it’s set out to establish.
Infinity Runner appears to have no idea which of these two groups it belongs to, and this makes the game difficult to be considered as anything that’s actually worthwhile. Temple Run is free, hosts a superior visual style, and plays far better than Infinity Runner’s control pad adaptation. That says alot. Coming from such an interesting studio, Infinity Runner proves to be a real disappointment.
When considering the potential of taking the Temple Run formula and adapting it to the PC and console space, this really is a shame. This simple idea should’ve have not faced any issues in expanding upon it’s roots. But taking the route of cheap quick-time-events which have been proven time and time again to only work well in fast-paced, hack ‘n’ slash games such as Bayonetta and God of War, have clearly not turned out so well for Infinity Runner.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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