If we gave out awards on best iOS monikers of the year, Grudger would easily be one of this year's standouts. It's the kind of title suited for a Guy Ritchie film, with Jason Statham as its star. The premise also hits the spot, as the central character is a morally ambiguous messenger whose bottom line is straight up money. An endless runner set in a steampunk world sounds like a nifty way to go, that is until you start touching your device!!
Any runner, no matter how crafty or easy, is dependent on its control system. To play Grudger, swipe your finger up to jump, swipe it down to roll, and move your finger left to right to have Grudger sprint in different directions. There are walls and pipes that are in your way, and if you don't time your jumps properly, the sound of Grudger's bones will crunch at the impact, which essentially means game over. If you want to double jump, just swipe your device twice. Piece of cake, right?
That cake you bit into just gave you food poisoning, since that, "swipe up anywhere to jump" promise is growing on a heaping pile of gaming manure. My grudger has died countless times when, in reality, he should have kept on running. The title has an absolutely horrific response to your touch, which is the absolute death knell for any iOS release that aims to make any kind of mark. If you're expecting a seamless jump and duck title, stay the heck away from this game, since many of your deaths will end up being no fault of your own. I am still frustrated at what Grudger could have been. Just take a look at this fatalistic opening shot.
One light bulb overhead, a South Park looking reject staring off into space, until he gets a new job that pays him money. It's a perfect set up. In all fairness, if you get over the nightmarish control system, the game play is actually kind of decent, especially with all interesting pipes and buildings Grudger interacts with. The actual visual design of the game gets points, and there are moments when it's going in the right direction.
With 30 levels and supposedly more to come, developers Noble Muffins have their heart in the right place. Although it's not a free download, $1.99 is more than a bargain if, for some odd reason, you are a swiping savant and can master Grudger's every movement. There is also a nice sense of self satisfaction when you complete each level and you see your mysterious benefactor give you your payment for a job well done.
In a world of numerous iOS titles vying for our attention, Grudger could have made me stand up and take notice. The premise and the overall world created is intriguing. Unfortunately, games are meant to be played, and whether it's with a tablet, smart phone, or a console, if the control aspect is abysmal, why waste your time? Pretty pictures and a cool name may get a knock on the door, but don't expect anyone to answer.