Run Like Hell! gives fast food a whole new meaning
Run Like Hell! Polish developer Mass Creation’s 2012 iOS endless runner has jogged its way onto the Playstation Vita. Developed by the team behind the hyperviolent action survival title Draw Slasher, this colorful adaptation of the mobile game puts players in the well-worn running shoes of Joe, a stranded Nathan Drake wannabe adventurer as you, well, run like hell through a tropical paradise teeming with bloodthirsty cannibals eager to have you for lunch.
True to the typical runner formula, Run Like Hell! has players dash from left to right, sliding under ledges and into narrow tunnels, clambering over obstacles, collecting shiny coins and power-ups, and timing precision jumps to evade their demise. The meat of the game is found in the game’s Story Mode, which has players racing through over 30 stages full of a variety of nasty traps and hazards such as swinging wrecking balls, witch doctors brewing psychedelic vision-impairing potions, and all forms of wicked pottery hell-bent on sending you to an early grave on the game’s headhunter infested island. In Run Like Hell!, your hungry hunters are relentless. Thankfully, you can snatch up a variety of power-ups to help even the odds such as clouds of fog which slow your pursuers in a thick haze, lightning bolts which stun your foes in their tracks, and adrenaline reserves that give you a limited boost of speed to leave your spear-slinging adversaries in the dust. Speeding through the game’s main story mode can easily last you several hours as the difficulty really ramps up towards the end of the game. While the game doesn’t break any new ground in the crowded runner genre, the stages are vibrant and colorful, and it’s undeniably satisfying when you find your rhythm and begin flying over a stages myriad deathtraps when you’ve found your groove.
Run Like Hell! has a surprising wealth of content tucked into its deceptively small package. In addition to the aforementioned Story Mode, you can also challenge yourself with the game’s Arcade Mode, which acts as a true endless runner as you attempt to run record distances on a variety of stages including a sandy beach, canopy-covered jungle, ancient ruins, a native village, and a snowy mountain. Each environment has its only distinct look and obstacles to keep you on your toes as you attempt to run for your life and collect coins which you can spend in the game’s online shop on unlockable items and characters, which in turn can be used in the game’s single player and online modes.
Speaking of online modes, Run Like Hell!’s versus mode is surprisingly competent. Players compete in ranked races- 4 player races, 1 on 1 races or an 8 player tournament- as you test your racing mettle against other humans as well as bots, who serve to round out any empty slots during matchmaking. Matchmaking is fast, and during my pre-release time with the game I had no issues finding other players to race with. Online races with other players are largely seamless and lag free, and can prove quite frantic as players crash, climb, and dive over obstacles vying to beat each other to the finish line (which rather counterintuitively is surrounded by those same savages you’re trying to run away from in the game’s story mode). Before races, players can use the coins they’ve earned- or rather disappointingly purchased through PSN- to purchase adrenaline and other power-ups to give them a performance-boosting edge on the field. While it’s rather disappointing that paying players are given an advantage in the game’s online modes, coins aren’t that hard to come by, and winning races in both the adversarial and challenge modes typically nets you a pretty hefty reward.
In addition to head-to-head races, you can also compete in the game’s online Challenge Mode which allows you to compete to beat your friends’ best times as well as race to the top of the game’s global leaderboards.
Once you’ve scrounged up enough gold you can plunk down your cash on a variety of unlockable characters, many of which modeled after popular gaming characters like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Mirrors Edge’s nimble heroine Faith, and your essential assortment of zombies, soldiers, and other gaming staples.
While Run Like Hell’s mechanics play it safe, I have to admit one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the unbelievably non-PC way the game’s flesh-munching natives are portrayed. Sporting tribal tattoos, tiki masks, and bones in their noses, these natives are both restless and repugnantly represented. Those who listen to our podcast probably know by now I’m not one to get worked up over make believe social slights, but the cannibal cast of Run Like Hell! genuinely look like caricatures ripped from yellowed racist propaganda posters from a bygone era. Not that I believe this was the developer’s intention, but it’s unfortunate nonetheless. This kind of crassness is further displayed by one of the game’s unlockable characters, Eve, who is merely a buxom blonde sporting nothing but a pair of censor bars above her pendulous chest and genitalia.
The game’s questionable art style aside, Run Like Hell! is still an addicting if uninspired experience. The simple act of landing a perfect run is satisfying, and the game feels good when played at length or in short bursts. With a wealth of modes including an addicting online multiplayer component it’s not hard to imagine this tropical runner sprouting some legs to carry it on for months to come. If you’ve had your fill of endless runners Run Like Hell! isn’t likely to change your mind, but it’s a completely serviceable entry in a genre all but absent from the Vita.
Final Verdict 3/5
Available on: Vita (Reviewed); Publisher: Mass Creation; Developer: Mass Creation; Players: 1-8 (online); Released: September 16, 2014; Genre: Runner; MSRP: $3.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on pre-release code provided by the game’s developer, Mass Creation.