Chillingo is no stranger to creating addictive and memorable game, and their latest is no different. Rock Runners channels an interesting vibe in the realm of endless runners, and it's an addictive (and often tricky) exercise in collecting all the crystals you possibly can. This may sound rather mundane, but wait until you sit down with it for a few minutes -- you won't be able to put it down.
Rock Runners turns the endless runner genre on its head, adopting different sensibilities to make this game as refreshing as it is. Rather than playing until you "fail" somehow, the game is split up into levels -- around 140 of them to be exact -- and your main goal is to essentially complete the stages. Of course, if you're a completionist, getting 100% on each level might end up being difficult.
At least the game itself is simple to pick up and play. You need only tape the screen to get your helmet-clad character to jump. The key to performing well is by jumping at the most optimal time. You'll need to clear ledges, jump over enemies, and eventually reach your goal wthout succumbing to the many various pitfalls waiting to frustrate and annoy you. Luckily, jumping isn't the only trick up your sleeve. Rock Runners implements an interesting twist: a grapple beam to be used to swing and gain momentum a la Rotastic, a game with similar ideas. Combined with interesting Portal-like transporters and exciting physics arenas, the grapple beam quickly makes itself a useful tool you won't even realize you needed until you see how much it changes up gameplay.
Throughout the ever-changing landscapes of each level, you'll swing and jump through the air with the greatest of ease to nab all those brightly-colored robin's egg blue gems, nabbing the hundreds of gems, keys to unlock new areas to explore, and plenty more collectibles to keep you occupied. Gems can in turn be used at an in-game shop to purchase additional power-ups to aid you on your quest to complete every level. You can buy a shield to protect yourself, an item to attract more gems, and a bevy of other augments that should keep you alive and kicking through plenty more levels. More gems can be purchased via microtransactions, but you shouldn't have any difficulty coming across enough during normal play to at least nab a few items.
The only downside some players will find with the game is that it's a completionist's nightmare. Some of the items available for grabs will require a copious amount of skill to obtain, and you'll have to keep going back over and over in order to find them all. It can be frustrating and time-consuming, so it's important to keep fun in mind.
Rock Runners combines the intriguing setup of an endless runner with all the collectible craziness of a regular platformer and does a fantastic job of doing so. It's an interesting mix of old and new sensibilities that includes the addictive nature of games like Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run with the simple platforming of games like Rotastic. Chillingo knows how to keep you engaged, and proves it once again with this excellent little diversion that certainly deserves a spot in your app collection.