Oct 3, 2013
Totem Runner (from mobile development heavyweight Chillingo) is an agrarian fable with an platform/endless running twist.
In this one, our hero is a valiant warrior who rises against an evil threatening his land. He is gifted with mystical powers, and along the way, also loads up stars and disperses seeds to boot.
The graphics feel hauntingly similar to fellow sideways runner Vector… and that is in a good way. The initial look of our protagonist is shadowy, with the movement from left to endless right. The backgrounds are swathed in nighttime-y pastels, which do great to highlight both the humanoid, animal and otherworldly beings hat inhabit this fantasy world. The animations are just about right; the developer mostly avoids the temptation to be a bit long-winded with regards to effects. The animations are inventive and lend themselves well to the narrative and gameplay.
Gameplay? This is where the game gets fun. As noted, it is left to right. All sorts of obstacles appear to prevent progress, and they run the gamut: deathly valleys, floating blades, archers, hanging vines and, of course monsters. To deal with these, our runner has mystical powers; he is able to turn into an eagle a rhino or even a dragon. The eagle is great when it comes to avoiding the gullies and gaps, as well as getting the special orbs that hang in the air. The rhino was great for spearing and discarding dangerous items in front of our runner. The dragon was a replenishable power, and when toggled, it is able to traverse all types of terrain and obstacles efficiently. The built-in tutorial does well to explain how to play and use the special powers. The game gets harder further on demanding quick transitions and reactions.
A big part of the game is the controls. Virtual buttons toggle the eagle and rhino; each special manifestation lasts as long as the button is held. When released, the animal turns back into the humanoid runner. When fully charged, the dragon button goes live. I thought the controls could use a bit more of a visual component.
Totem Runner is able to squeeze a good deal of character into a familiar genre. The leveled gameplay makes it worth the time.