Run Merida run!
Few games can be seen played as intensively on buses, in school corridors or if you had a snake cam into bathrooms worldwide as Temple Run. The first time I tried it I really didn’t get it, and it took me quite a long time to get what hooked thousands. Imangi Studios was one of the early developers understanding the power of the touch screen, and the iOS market place. Always on the forefront of technology their Max Adventure was one of the first games I played mirrored on a big screen. Harbor Master got a lot of flack for being a clone Flight Control, but it did bring an own style and setting to the line drawing genre.
When Temple Run became a hit across the globe it marked the true starting point for freemium games. It is free to play whenever you want to, but you can buy the in game currency using IAP. This means that you can boost your chance of great performances using your wallet. It is no guarantee however, as skill is still a huge part of the result. Someone using zero IAP can still beat someone spending $20. This is a great way to use the freemium model in my opinion compared to for example Gamelofts Six Guns where you can buy more playtime, or wait for a set time.
What is it about Temple Run that makes it so compelling to play over, and over, and over again? It is based more on skill than luck. You can’t just jump about hoping that you will survive an upcoming obstacle. You have to time it perfectly, and make sure to quickly identify the next obstacle. The game always feels manageable despite getting progressively harder. No matter if you run 500 feet, or 5000 you will feel slightly cheated by game over, and retry just to show that you can easily run longer. Finally the game always supplies you with a reward. Game Over still means that you might have completed an objective, or at least collected a lot of coins used to purchase upgrades.
Temple Run Brave plays almost exactly the same way as the original Temple Run. Instead of the generic runner you get to run as Merida from the fresh Walt Disney Movie Brave. Merida is a skilled archer, and some archery moments have been injected into the game. When the meter in the top left fills up you enter an archery section where you have to tap a number of targets to get a bonus. These break up the tense running sections giving me a couple of seconds to regain my focus.
Chased by a cursed beast Merida runs about the Scottish countryside, shores and temples. All along she screams out one-liners that are more about survival than humour. The music is serene with an almost medieval feeling to it. You can listen to your own music, and still keep the footsteps and voice.
What strikes me as odd is the fact that Temple Run Brave doesn’t look much better than the original Temple Run. Considering that the Brave movie is produced by Pixar Animation Studios I had hoped that some of their technology, and graphics would have been used for the environments and characters. Instead I get the same murky sensation to the surfaces that I have always felt about Temple Run.
Something less important perhaps, and hopefully something not affecting too many people is the wonky language support. When I start the game with my device language set to Swedish the game is in French. If I change my device language to English I get the game in English. Hopefully something that gets sorted in an update.
I have not doubt that Temple Run Brave will be a hit with casual gamers worldwide. The inclusion of archery moments is enough to warrant an upgrade if you have played the game for months. I doubt Brave is the last tie-inn game made using the Temple Run formula. It takes so little to create a spanking new identity for the game. A couple of character models, a couple of one-liners and some special gaming feature is all it takes.
I really like the fact that Temple Run Brave is a universal binary for iPad, iPhone and iPod. One thing that I would have liked is some alternative way to move Merida from side to side than tilting. On a smaller device this is ok, but on the iPad it looks and feels wonky waiting on the bus waving the iPad about.
Temple Run Brave relies on the same addictive formula that made the original a household name. Complete objectives, upgrade abilities and run just one more time. If you hated this formula in the original you won’t be won over by the Brave inclusion. For the rest of us we will just have to keep running.
Temple Run Brave $0.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Walt Disney