Has this endless-runner got the legs to sustain itself?
There's something refreshing about a game you can get within just a few minutes of gameplay: you understand the draw, the challenge, and the hook of why you're playing it, with none of the overblown narrative and systems that so many games depend upon.
So it is with Flip's Escape, a spin-off title by Shaun Inman, set within the universe of his well-received game The Last Rocket. This particular game is an endless-runner in its simplest form, and the controls amount to nothing more than finger presses which put the brakes on a ship which travels endlessly from left to right as it also travels forward.
You rush passed planets orbited by stars and the only trick of the game is to stop your ship at just the right moment to avoid the planet, but at the same time also grab the star. Grabbing these stars adds to a meter that will give you a little protection if you hit a planet, or send you into a warp speed if you manage to top it out. Attempts end when your ship is destroyed, either from collisions or the deadly heat which chases you from behind.
And that's pretty much it from the gameplay side of things. This is an intrinsically simple game with the retro stylings of its parent title and a predictably quirky chip tune. There are upgrade items to be purchased with the currency you earn such as speed boosters, or consumable magnets which draw the stars towards you, but it's hard to image spending any lengthy amount of time.
That same simplicity and draw that's so appealing is ultimately the game's undoing long-term. It's fun to play, and it's an interesting idea, yet there are no compelling aces hidden up the game's sleeves. Even the upgrades can't hide the fact that nothing is going to change from the first few seconds to the last, and the concept of the game is just a little too thin to sustain interest.
Fans of The Last Rocket will no doubt welcome the chance to continue their travels, but it's a tough sell for those who have come to expect a little more from their runners. Still, it would be churlish not to acknowledge that this is at least something different in a stale genre.
What's Hot: An interesting new mechanic for the genre, without the slow start that typical accompanies runners.
What's Not: There's not a great deal of longevity to the game, and the collision-detection can be a little unpredictable.