I Must Run! Review—I Must Run Indeed
I Must Run! is graphically amazing. This is the first thing that anyone viewing the game will notice. The way the character throws his limbs in the air when he jumps is animated perfectly. The environments are well drawn and dynamic. The backdrop is a pleasure to watch even if it is not your mind’s focus.
Gameplay-wise, I Must Run! is straightforward, in every sense of the word. This game might be the Mini that encapsulates perfectly the aim of the program. It is uncomplicated, bite-sized and perfect for pick-up-and-play. However, we’ve seen Minis that break our limited expectations and expand into otherworldly gaming experiences within the tight packaging. That being the case, I Must Run!, in its straightforwardness, is somewhat underwhelming.
This game is a “runner.” You control a character that is constantly on the move and keep him alive by jumping off ledges and sliding under stalactite-like structures. There is a story behind the game: you are wrongfully incarcerated, escape the prison and are now on the run to save your loved one. It is somewhat irrelevant, given that this game is all about skills, not motivations and/or intriguing plots.
Gamelion‘s previous Mini, Boom Beats, requires intense focus and great reflexes. The difficulty of Boom Beats is unforgiving, but the game’s presentation, visual and aural, makes the game enjoyable. In I Must Run!, this is also the case.
The visuals and sounds are gorgeous. The lightning and thunder effects of the first level add to the gameplay; it’s not merely empty aesthetics. You can observe the speed of the running character, and you can feel him slow down when he hits some boxes and other things.
The controls of this game are very responsive. The character is always in motion, so there is no button for running, altering his speed or stopping him. Up and X is for jumping (tapping them twice in-air causes the character to double-jump), Down is to slide and Square is to punch. As soon as the game starts, it’s all-out running. This game is fast-paced and doesn’t allow you to do anything but focus on the game. A second of distraction is enough for Game Over. This game has no health bar, credits or checkpoints. Right after you jump into new levels, you are subject to insta-deaths. Coming into new settings, you have no clue what the hurdles you have to face will be, meaning you have to learn the game by constantly dying and retrying.
Having no second chances at all may make or break the game. I myself do commend this game design, but the lack of options is a letdown. A tutorial or a software manual listing down the things one must avoid would be very helpful. There are a lot of ways to survive in the game, but as you progress, you are not going to take chances anymore, since a single mistake brings you back to the beginning of the game. This is despite knowing that you garner more points the riskier your maneuvers are, like punching hurdles just before collision or jumping off ledges right at the edge.
The production values of this game are indeed high. The lack of anything else to do is a bummer. The I Must Run! game proper seems like a “Survival” or “Endless” mode of a bigger game that can still be a Mini. The price is not scary, though, so it’s a win-win.