Speed can be hypnotizing, and completely mesmerizing. Racing games tend to put too much on the screen for the player to really get into the speed. In Vector Runner speed is everything. Scaled down into simple easy to navigate retro graphics, and only the odd power up and bonus point marker to pick up. What makes the game successful is also what limits the scope somewhat. This is a narrow line to travel, and at times it feels a bit too streamlined and barren of content. As the synapses start firing in my brain at maximum speed I have only speed in mind, and it is a simple quick fix of fun.
Vector Runner is perhaps not the best name for the game. There is no runner to control, but rather a blue vector square. The inclusion of the name runner draws my thoughts towards the vast number of survival running games following the success of Canabalt. Vector Runner is more of a racer, but sure survival is what it is all about. The further you get, the better you score.
The gameplay area is a wide road stretching out into the distance. There are no curves, and instead the obstacles appear randomly across the square road. Obstacles come in the shape of colored cones, mines disturbing vision and larger square cones. To help you there are invisibility powerups, and shield recharges to pickup. The controls are easy to get into, as you only have two touch controls for direction. Touching the left side of the screen makes the runner go left, and right side for movement to the right. With such easy controls the challenge comes from precision dodging, and making pickups between obstacles. As the speed picks up the game gets incredibly hard, and game over always looms.
I am a sucker for retro graphics, and with retina resolution Vector Runner looks great at full speed. It runs smoothly, and there are no slowdowns even with the screen full of obstacles. To some the presentation might be too simplistic, and minimal. The focus is high speed, and I can not get this sense of speed in racing games cluttered with vehicles, buildings and effects.
The drum and bass soundtrack increases in intensity the quicker the speed is. Coupled with some powerful bassy sounds as you pick up items, or crash into objects the sound makes the game even more immersive. You can play your own music, and keep the sound effects but having an increasing intensity is awesome. The vibrate function also helps making the game more immersive, but I tend to avoid having it on not to disturb my surrounding. Having a soundtrack with modern instrumentation might put retro purists off, but as it works really well I think it is more of a strength than limitation.
Vector Runner is a fun game built for speed. With a single mode, and no achievements it is limited in scope. What it offers instead is a great rush of adrenaline, and quick daily rankings.
Vector Runner $1.99
Seller: Littlegrey Media