Sometimes the name of a game genre describes itself quite effectively. I’m referring to, of course, the “endless run” style of game, which is composed of an endless run of variants. After Earth (by After Earth Enterprises), an iOS game based on the current film of the same name, is one of the latest games in the genre. The film, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, did not really do all that well at the theatres. Does the game do any better? Sadly, it does not.
The game places you in the role of a ranger cadet, and has you participating in a series of missions. Swiping left and right allows you to move to the appropriate adjacent lane. Swiping left and right close to turns allows you to slide and run in the new direction. Sliding up causes you to jump; sliding down places you low to the ground; and tapping the screen enables you to swing your weapon. When you get hit, your fear mounts; when you don’t get hit, your mood becomes increasingly calm. Hitting obstacles in the “fear zone” causes you to lose health; and once you lose enough health, you have to start over. Grabbing coins adds to your bank account that you can use to buy upgrades (which lead to other cool moves).
To their credit, the developers behind this title tried to differentiate this movie-inspired title from the rest of the pack with some pretty creative additions: free-falling (using your suit’s wings to navigate), zip-lining, and monster battles. Free-falling and zip-lining shift control of your character to “tilting”, while the battles rely on quick-time mechanics to keep them moving. Two modes await the avid run-loving player: Mission Mode (a pseudo story-based set of levels) and Marathon Mode (truly endless running) – great for variety. Even the graphics and audio are frankly amazing. Unfortunately, these positive aspects are offset by some negatives which prevented me from really enjoying the game as much as wanted to.
The zip-line will leave you hanging – just like sections of this game.
For one thing, the game gets fairly boring pretty quickly. I understand that it is an endless-running title; but for some reason I just found that I did not feel all that engaged. Maybe it was the lackluster “action” soundtrack. Maybe it was the odd level design. Actually, it was both of those, coupled with some odd control glitches that seemed to pop up at the oddest times. Normally I would attribute my repeated deaths to an inability to play – but after having to repeat some parts over and over again, I made a careful study and found that at some points the game wouldn’t recognize my input. It was almost as if there was some kind of weird lag that popped up when the action became too processor-intensive – and this applies to the both types of inputs: touch controls and tilt controls. As I am not an iOS programmer, I will never know the real reason behind the weirdness, I suppose. I can only hope that a future update takes care of this.
After Earth is entertaining enough. It features some interesting story-based game-play and a variety of action-filled levels. Upgrades can be purchased with booty gathered from within the game – or you can use real money to make in-app purchases. The latter point makes me feel a little bit like this game was pushed out to cash in on the film’s release – this might explain some of the glitchy controls. If you’re an endless-running game person with a lot of patience, you might like this. It’s got enough flash and dazzle to distract you for at least a little while. Of course, it also costs about a buck (iOS and Google Play), yet still has in-app micro-transactions if you feel like it. Be ye warned, cadet!