Jun 7, 2011
The endless runner genre is one that’s taken off in popularity since the advent of the smartphone era. The premise is simple â€“ something or someone is coming to get you and you need to escape before it does. The screen constantly moves and all you have to do is get yourself over the obstacles in your path.
Stellar Escape follows the same basic template, but adds a few more buttons into the mix, along with a few nice graphical touches and a story that you can quite easily miss. It’s not a revolution, but it does what it does rather well, and for the price, that’s all you can ask for really.
Sprinting through a space station, you are presented with a variety of space walls, space holes and space rails that you have to navigate to proceed. There are five buttons; jump, grab, slide, fall down hole and dive through gap. Each of the spacey obstacles you encounter refers back to an action â€“ press that button, pass that obstacle.
The problem with the many-buttoned approach is that things can get mighty convoluted when you’re facing large strings of walls, gaps and holes. Not only is the game testing your reaction times, but it’s forcing you to remember which of five buttons you need to press. That doesn’t sound particularly taxing, but when three of the buttons are different kinds of jumps, it can be.
Stellar Escape has taken the running genre and tried to make it more like a â€œrealâ€ or conventional videogame and the results are mixed. It’s still a lot of fun, and once you get the hang of things you’ll be leaping and ducking and falling in holes with the best of them. But the game lacks the instant addictive thrill of something like Cannabalt, or one of the huge swathe of clones you can find on the Android Market.
It’s not terrible, it’s not broken and it is a lot of fun, but you can’t quite help thinking that Stellar Escape has run a little bit too far from the template that makes games like this work.