The road to nowhere?
It's a pity that Endless Road has such an immediately forgettable title, as many gamers burned out on the endless-runner craze will likely gloss over the name and move on. That would be a pity, because in doing so they'd miss out on one of the most striking and original endless games we've seen all year.
This is a top-down racer where you steer your car around the trials and tribulations of a three-lane highway. As one portion of the road ahead unfolds to lengthen your journey, so an equal portion of the road behind you falls into ruin. Should you fail to keep your speed up, and slip behind the line that marks the approaching cataclysm, then your high-score attempt will end and it's back to the drawing board.
It sounds simple enough but you're not alone on this road to nowhere. Other road users include commuter cars, police vehicles, and even articulated lorries, and all of these confound your plans by switching lanes and blocking off access to the coins you need to collect, the speed and braking strips which keep you motoring along, and the subway entrances which briefly take you out of harm's way.
Fortunately those coins you've collected can be used to throw some bonus upgrades into the mix. Once you've unlocked the slow-motions, bomb blasts that push nearby cars out of your proximity, or jumps that help you clear the messiest of traffic jams, you'll have a little more control over the more dangerous situations. You'll be randomly rewarded with one of these unlocked bonuses whenever you run over a tile marked with a question-mark, and choosing whether to risk a lane-switch to pick one of these up is no small dilemma.
Endless Road is one of the most visually striking games we've seen on the App Store, and the way the world folds and unfolds around the action really does need to be seen in motion to be appreciated. The artwork is crisp and clean, and it flows effortlessly as the world evolves. If you've got some spare games coins slushing around in the bank, you can even change the light pastel colors for a fee.
Overall, this is a game that's as fun as it is refreshing within the genre, although we also had our moments of frustration. Speed too far ahead up the road and it becomes almost impossible to cope with what's coming next, and the odds of maintaining that crucial balance between steady acceleration, and central positioning on the road strip, can often feel unfairly stacked against you.
More than once we also found ourselves travelling beneath an underpass only to end up shunting the rear of a car we couldn't have seen in advance, and falling rapidly behind as a result. It's rarely a good idea to use the ramps either, as you'll often land on an upcoming car or just find yourself wedged into a worse position than you otherwise would have. Without tighter control over both the speed and the positioning of your car, it can sometimes feel as though the game has more control over your fate than you do.
Even allowing for these niggles, this is nevertheless a highly original and entertaining take on the endless-runner genre. For whatever rough edges the balancing of the game may have, Endless Road is bold, beautiful, smart and capable of holding your attention for hours. The challenge may not flow as smoothly as the road itself, yet even the most impatient of gamers will find much to fall in love with here
What's Hot: A breathlessly simple but beautiful runner that shakes up the genre. Plenty of upgrades to work towards.
What's Not: The game sometimes works against you when it comes to providing a challenging but fair sense of progression.