Running games are two for a penny on mobile devices. It is a genre that appeals most strongly to gamers on the go, offering both challenge and a level of achievement wherever the player is. In reality, whether they are endless or level-based, 2D or 3D, set in a completely new setting or a popular world that already exists, there is very little to tell these games apart. You have no control over the forward momentum and are just required for ensuring that momentum does not slow.
Game Insight has other ideas however. With their latest title Running Shadow, which is a free download for Android devices through Google Play, Game Insight want to mix things up and throw a little bit more immersion into the running genre.
When it comes to the actual running side of the game, things should be fairly familiar for veterans of the genre. Swipe left or right to change lanes and avoid obstacles. Smaller obstructions can be leapt over or clambered under with a simple swipe up or down. Fighting uses the same controls, with the player having to watch the upcoming enemy carefully and judge their attack based on this. In this respect, the core game is fairly simple, albeit much more challenging as the game progresses. But Running Shadow doesn’t stop with being a simple Temple Run clone.
For starters, Running Shadow has a story. Admittedly, the reason for all of the running is that once again the hero of the game has stolen something, but it is a bit more involved than just simple thievery.
The player takes control of a thief who just happens to be lurking in the shadows of some temple where a sinister looking ceremony is taking place. This ceremony involves a mysterious artifact and, once the ceremony reaches its conclusion, our hero decides the artifact must be his. However, the artifact seems to bind with him, becoming some kind of gauntlet, and will eventually give our hero some cool powers. Something nice to look forward to, but right now the concern lies with the guys who want their artifact back.
And so the game begins. In Running Shadow, the levels have distinct beginnings and endings, sometimes with objectives thrown in that may see the player having to retry. Between these levels, which slowly open up to the player, time will be spent perusing an impressive map upon which the missions will appear. The player will come across interesting characters, adding some spice to the game and furthering the detailed story. All of the intrigue from the story, the learning of new skills and meeting new characters makes a nice break from the constant running action and leaves the game feeling more involved, setting it apart from the quick hit feel of most runners.
There is a real sense of progression too, and not just from the introduction of new mechanics. There are an absolute ton of collectibles that can be gathered through the adventures, and different outfits for your hero to wear, including weapons that can be upgraded and improved. All in all, outside of the running there is a fairly deep game to be found in Running Shadow.
Visually, Running Shadow looks pretty impressive. The map screen is lovely and detailed, and the actual running sections are good looking and take the player through a wide variety of different and interesting settings.
However, all is not perfect in the Running Shadow world. In-app purchases, while not aggressively pushed at the player, will cause offense to some. Once the game gets moving, it runs really well. But getting it to that point is an exercise in patience which is not always rewarded. The last two times I have tried to run the game on my tablet, it just freezes at 95%, and this seems to be a common problem amongst the players.
Running games tend to rise and fall on the quality of the core running mechanic, and Running Shadow does this very well. But it also offers much more beyond just running away from a faceless enemy. It has a story, it has RPG aspects, and it has a sense of progression. Also, it’s pretty easy on the eye. Despite a few wrinkles in the formula, Running Shadow on Android is a highly enjoyable game, and is recommended for all Android owners, especially as it is free. Good stuff!