Outland Games, an endless runner where the protagonist is a captive in a cruel reality television show, may come across as a fatalistic adventure, but it surprisingly has a bit of humor to spare. Set in a sci-fi wasteland where death is the soup of the day, Outland Games may not break any new ground, but it definitely runs in the right direction.
The premise is very simple -- jump over mines, slash any robots that block your path, collect as many gold coins as possible, and run for your seemingly intangible freedom. Tapping the left side of your device enables your reality show captive to jump, with the right side used for slashing the enemies. Dying in Outland Games is pretty common, and if you're expecting an easy iOS title that doesn't require any brain power or coordination, you've come to the wrong party. Any game where you're expected to die shouldn't be easy!
Though the game play can be a bit frustrating if you don't master the jumping mechanics, the pure rush of getting further into the adventure is worth all of those headaches. A sarcastic and smarmy announcer provides commentary throughout the action, and depending on your mood, his quips will either be somewhat funny or downright annoying. After my contestant jumped straight into a mine, the announcer remarked, "Explosion - population you." If you prefer a little silence in all your running and killing, a menu option enables you to play the game sans all the commentary.
Unfortunately, upgrading your weapons really don't do much in Outland Games. Whether you don an assassin sword, spatula, an emerald sword or even a giant baby rattle, they don't have any major powers. The biggest weapon you'll find is an upgrade called the Juice Sweetener. After purchasing this item, the upgrade will randomly appear during the game, and once you jump to grab it, you're indestructible for several seconds. Even mines can't hurt you. And since the game never lets up on its difficulty factor, having a few moments of kick ass indestructibility is a breath of fresh of air.
There's also another character in the game named Bullseye who pops up if you grab a green booster. Once he appears, numerous gold coins appear on the screen and it's pretty much a cash grab from there. Although you have to watch where you jump, playing Bullseye enables you to just concentrate on coin collecting for a few moments, as the robots momentarily disappear whenever Bullseye appears on screen.
It's also fun to play a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, as witnessed by some of the inane items you can purchase at the Outland Games store. Although the main character starts off looking like Deadpool, you can change your contestant into an eyeless roller skating girl with a horned hat. Titled Megabeth Demon Head? You can purchase her noggin for just 2500 gold coins!
Outland Games may not be the most original or ambitious game on the planet, but it completely delivers as a diverting endless runner. Developers Uber Entertainment posted an insightful blog on the making of the game, and some of the humor from their blog translates into the title's overall tone. It's really an uncomplicated and addicting experience, and if you don't mind dying a few hundred times, a trip to the Outland isn't such a bad idea.