Games I’ve Been Playing: Earn to Die and Rock Runners

Ugh, I really need to shorten the “Games I’ve Been Playing” phrase. Any idea?

Playing gameIt’s been a while since my last post about games I’ve been playing. But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean I’m not playing any interesting game. My desktop computer got fried a couple of weeks ago, so I actually have played more mobile games than usual since I can’t play games anywhere else. I kinda feel bad for not writing about those games though =/

Anyway, what important is now I’m back, so let’s get it on!

Oh, and by the way, I finally got all 155 jobs on Pixel People =D The last 5 really took a while since I got lazier in playing it as I got closer to the finish line.

So, what mobile games have I been playing lately? Well, on my Nexus 7 I’ve been playing Earn to Die, which is my current “impossible-to-put-down” game (last time it was Pixel People). Meanwhile on my iPod Touch I’ve been playing Rock Runners, a game which surprisingly has tons of levels and I don’t know if I’ll ever finish them all.

Earn to dieGet Earn to Die for your iOS devices here.
Get Earn to Die for your Android devices here.
Play the flash version here.
Or watch the trailer here.

I first heard about Earn to Die on Walled Garden Weekly podcast, but wasn’t really interested in the game back then so I forgot to try it out. Later on I read on Touch Arcade Android forum (yeah, that iOS gaming site actually have an Android forum now) that the developer is preparing an Android version. Deciding that I’m not going to miss out this time, I finally purchased it for my Nexus 7.

Earn to Die is almost your usual zombie game, it takes place on a zombie apocalypse and you need to drive across the desert to reach safe haven. Your car cannot reach that location at first try, but by upgrading and buying better car (with money you earned along the way) you’ll finally able to reach your destination. In short, it’s a grinding game where you keep doing a certain thing so you can purchase upgrades that will make you perform better on your next try.

I’ll be honest, I’m never a fan of grinding games, the only exception to this is probably Flight. Fortunately Earn to Die shares a lot of traits that make Flight such a great game. For starter, while your vehicle status (like speed, fuel, etc) plays a huge part in determining how far you could drive, player’s skill (such as when to use the booster) also take a role in deciding how far your vehicle will go. Not to mention that the randomness in the game makes each run feels unique. For example, hitting a stack of crates in a slightly different spot could make your vehicle goes right through it instead of stumbling miserably.

Another thing is progress. The game is divided over several levels with different backgrounds and environments that gets more and more difficult. Coupled with vehicles that get cooler and cooler over time, there is a feeling of progress in the game that made people (like me) keep playing it. It’s really fun to get a new upgrade and see how much further that latest upgrade could take you. All of these stuff made the game almost impossible to put down. At one point I just stood still in the toilet playing it for an hour even though I’m done satisfying my bladder.

By the way, it’s interesting to note that lately my “impossible-to-put-down” games have been games with some sort of ending. Is games with ending simply more exciting to play? Might wanna put more thoughts into this one.

Rock RunnersGet Rock Runners for your iOS devices here.
Or watch the trailer here.

If I heard about Earn to Die from a podcast, then I got to know Rock Runners from a more ordinary source, an article on a website. The screenshot got me kinda hooked, but I’m not really sure about purchasing it, until Touch Arcade decided to review it. The review basically said that’s it’s a really nice game but feels repetitive, and me, thinking that maybe I can get over the repetitiveness, decided to just see it for myself XD

Rock Runners is your typical one touch runner game. Basically your character would automatically run from left to right, and touching the screen would make him jump, and if there’s a grappling ring nearby, he would automatically attach to it then swing forward. While the description sounds pretty plain, the game provides a lot of objects that go along with those abilities, like portals or moving grappling rings that makes the whole game feels more fun and speedy.

So, the big question, is it repetitive? While it’s true that each level of the game consists of several reusable platforming blocks that will be seen on other level, the game itself doesn’t really feel repetitive. Though the early part of the game tends to lend itself on the repetitive side since the variation of the blocks isn’t much yet, the latter levels offer much more variation that each level feels rather unique. That said, while levels like these are okay, having a unique and distinct level like in Rayman Jungle Run or Wind-up Knight is much, much better.

Speaking of levels, there are tons of them here, at least 100. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish they cut back on the number of levels. As it is now, the game’s pacing and difficulty curve feels a bit weird, the first 10 levels are totally easy and the difficulty only truly picks up at level 30 or so. By reducing the number of levels they should be able to make a much better difficulty curve. Again, case in point here would be Rayman Jungle Run and Wind-up Knight where they manage to pull off a perfect difficulty curve with 40-50 levels.

Bottom line, I think there’s a missed opportunity here. While the gameplay feels solid and the whole game is polished, actually executing those stunts correctly doesn’t really feel rewarding. Somehow pulling off all those jumping and swinging doesn’t feel as good as it should be.

Well, that’s it for now! I hope I can write about even more interesting games in the next post, but for now I gotta finish Earn to Die =D


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