Space, werewolves and lots of running
Cool RunningsThe problem with describing a game by evoking two others is that it often implies that the product is somewhat derivative. However, when I say Infinity Runner plays like "Temple Run meets Mirrors Edge" it is in the best possible way. Taking the endless runner gameplay and applying it to the first person perspective is something I'm surprised I haven't seen before now. Still, going in I was still sceptical as to how much of an actual game Infinity Runner could really be; rather than just a long sequence of Quick Time Events.
How much of an actual game could Infinity Runner really be?
The Running ManNo doubt the concept is simple, each level launches you through the corridors of the spaceship Infinity as you try to escape its bowels. A flick of the right stick at the end of a corridor will send you round turns and you can strafe from side to side with the left stick (or the D-Pad) collecting streams of data packets in your path. Parkour elements such as leaps and slides are mapped to the triggers so you can react to obstacles; in the corridors this might be beams, lasers or some form of toxic waste but occasionally the spartan halls will give way to larger open spaces where you will be dodging explosions, debris and occasionally make huge cinematic zero-G leaps.
The running is broken up by combat, which consists of quick-time events triggering one of a few kill sequences, some moments where you fall instead of running and must control your descent, and sections where you become powered-up and can run faster and on walls.
It's actually harder than it sounds, it controls well and once you get used to the visual language the game uses to signal whether you should be ducking, vaulting or strafing it is possible to chain together some pulse-raising runs which flow rather nicely. This feeling will however usually be cut short when you misinterpret a part of the environment. The further I went through the 14 levels the less I found myself relying on my reaction times and more often than not having to fall back to trial and error.
You have a limited number of lives with each run before you must restart the level entirely. This creates some frustrating situations where I would reach an encounter that wasn't particularly clear about what I needed to do and would require a few attempts to figure out. If I failed to work it out in the three lives I was afforded, I was sent back to the beginning of the level to re-navigate several minutes of gameplay to reach the same point again. As smooth as the gameplay feels, replaying sections over and over was not something I was happy to endure, especially when it wasn't obvious what needed to be done to succeed.
Replaying sections over and over was not something I was happy to endure
Nowhere To RunEach run lasts roughly 6 or 7 minutes, with 2 runs per level and 14 levels in total. They are bookended and narrated by a talking head, Riley, who offers some breadcrumbs of a story which I almost feel obliged to inform you goes basically nowhere. The narrative strangely hinges on the fact you are a werewolf, hence your ability to transform and become extra strong and extra fast for short periods. You are fed tidbits of information in between the throbbing techno soundtrack that accompanies the gameplay, but the delivery is rather lifeless and the there isn't enough content to do more than frame the experience and point you in the direction of the next environment.
Visually the game mixes up environments from the drab corridors in the ship to the colourful falling interludes and the best portions which had you running along the exterior of the ship against the canvas of space.
There are some harder difficulty settings, challenges to complete and an arcade mode if you really feel the need to challenge yourself beyond the campaign, but outside the few hours it took to see the campaign I felt little need to return.
The best portions have you running along the exterior of the ship against the canvas of space
- Gameplay can flow well
- Nice presentation
- Forces trial and error
- Frustrating repetition
- Zero story pay off
Infinity Runner Xbox One Review
Infinity runner isn't perfect; and it's often frustrating. Yet the moments when it flows just right, and has you on the edge of your seat as you chain together a long sequence, or finally get the timing right on an encounter which you keep failing, almost make it worth it.
At such a budget price point it's a solid execution of an interesting gameplay idea, that does offer some enjoyment for those that can tolerate or even embrace the less friendly elements of its design.
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