Save Them All
Endless runners provide that perfect balance of arcade excitement and the addictive nature of point-and-click apps to keep you glued to your device hour after hour, after you've missed your stop on the train and long after you've finished your business. And lucky for us, there are plenty of them on the App Store to satisfy our cravings when the Canabalt well has run dry and you're done toying around with your favorite jetpack. Chillingo's latest addition to the growing stable of runners comes in the form of one of the nastiest versions of the apocalypse we've ever seen in Save Them All. Aliens, zombies, meteors, nuclear war -- it seems like the entire universe has gone mad. It's your job to put a stop to all that.
The story is set with an unfortunately low-quality series of illustrations that bring to mind amateur comic artists trying their best to emulate their favorite manga. It definitely lacks polish, and it's tough to push yourself through what feels decidedly low-budget production values, but as you follow the narrative through the comic panels you take up the mantle of an amnesiac who finds himself smack dab in the middle of the aforementioned apocalypse. He awakens in a strange room, grabs some clothes, and jumps right out of the window into armageddon. Just the thing we'd do.
Your spiky-haired hero is now running for his life across several rooftops, with aliens swooping down to abduct innocent city-dwellers, nukes raining down upon the city, and zombies shambling around. It's not exactly somewhere you'd want to go after just waking up, but suppose you don't really have a choice. Amidst all this chaos you're running to safety, jumping over obstacles and employing a smattering of unique supernatural powers gained along the way.
Don't let the low-quality graphics and illustrations fool you -- Save Them All is a meaty, quirky adventure, as we soon found out. Aside from ridiculously impressive jumping abilities, your character is able to use a Vortex that will collect energy orbs around you to collect them all at once, unleash shockwaves upon the hordes of atrocities raining down on you, and employ bullet time. Yes, bullet time. This is a runner that doesn't just augment your character with powers that are more than enough to combat the horrific occurrences happening all over the city, but it makes you feel like a rockstar.
As you zip through the smoldering city wearing just a trenchcoat and jeans you save beautiful women and employ your numerous game-altering abilities in order to advance through Story mode. It's fast and furious, but we found one niggling complaint when trying to combine buttons -- jumping and using an action at the same time felt a little iffy. Sometimes a regular jump wouldn't work as well as we would have liked. Multitasking doesn't always work here, and it can even be easy to lose your hero on-screen with all the craziness going on in the background. When this occurs, push forward and keep forging ahead -- you'll find your trench-coated everyman, but it would have been appreciated to have a better feel for where he was on-screen at all times rather than having to search.
Once you've bested Story mode, Endless Mode allows you to run as far as you can while using the wealth of powers at your disposal, earning them through normal play. In addition, there are plenty of objectives to earn, such as "survive for X amount of distance in a specific chapter" or "avoid a nuke." You've seen it all before, but the apocalyptic nature of Save Them All is just so crazy it feels novel.
It won't score high marks for presentation or graphics, but Save Them All is definitely a worthy purchase if you're looking to add another endless runner to your endless collection--bad joke, we know. But it's prudent to look past what could easily be mistaken for laziness with the lackluster presentation as you'd miss out on a zany, fun-filled time. Is this how the world's going to end? We'd better get practicing for the apocalypse, then.