Relic Rush is a nice looking, chunky little pixelated adventure that's squarely aimed at retro gaming fans. Sporting all the trappings of the recent spate of throwback titles, such as a chiptune soundtrack, 8-bit aesthetics, and subject matter that makes you think of some classic movies and games, Relic Rush should be everything I would want in a game like this. But after playing it for a bit, it's kinda landing somewhere in the middle for me.
First of all, it's a bit slow. For a game called Relic Rush, there's not a whole lot of rushing going on. A more appropriate title would be Relic Trot. Or Relic Stroll. This one-touch adventure moves along at its own pace, one that's certainly determined, but not rushed at all. At first glace, I thought that my little Indiana Jones-looking character would be whipping and careening his way though the stages, making himself a blur of pixels much like the characters in Super Crate Box. But instead of that, it's much slower and even-keeled.
The gameplay in Relic Rush all revolves around a one-touch system. The default mode for our little hero is a steady trot through the levels. What you have to do is touch the screen at the right time to get him to stop, otherwise he'll just meander his way into danger without a care in the world, uncontrollably drawn by the lure of the golden idols at the end of each stage.
Let go of the screen and he will start moving again. Our treasure seeker will stay immobile as long as you hold on the screen, so it becomes a nice little game mechanic of timing your touches right to avoid everything. Get hit once and you will have to go back to the beginning of the level.
There's also a timer at the top of each level. The type of idol at the end of each stage corresponds with how fast you can make it through. I suppose this is where the "Rush" in the title comes in. The faster you can make it to the end, the better the idol, with the Diamond Idol being the best one you can nab.
Each stage consists of eight levels and as they start to get harder, it does make for some good gameplay trying to make it though as fast as you can, taking risks and trying to squeeze in one more dodge than you think is possible.
But it's also just as easy to wait and go about it methodically, with the only difference being the color of the idol at the end of the stage. It's fun to get a Diamond Idol and all, but I didn't find that to be enough of an incentive. There should be an explosion or something. Or a celebration screen. There isn't even Game Center support to record your scores, so it's all kind of moot. In fact, there should be a lot of things in this game. Like a mechanic that lets you speed up at intervals, or a whip that you can use here and there to ascend up a level.
Instead of a fully realized game, this feels like the template for a good game. I liked playing it for a little bit, as it's a retro title that's in my wheelhouse, but overall it was definitely a bit wanting. Hopefully the developer will build upon this with updates or a more fully realized sequel.
The chiptune soundtrack and the sound effects were fun to listen to, calling to mind many classic titles (I swear the level transition sound effect is straight out of Bubble Bobble). Each stage has its own different tune and it's all well and good. But by the time I was at the end of the stage, I was kind of tired of hearing it.
If you're a retro gaming fanatic, there's stuff here to be enjoyed. And I suppose I can't be too critical of a title that's goes so retro that it leaves you wishing for more. There are no shortage of classic games that felt more like experiments than fully realized titles. Not everything can be The Legend of Zelda, after all. But you can't fault Relic Rush for trying to go there with an homage or two.
If you feel like you want to give it a go, I would say that it's worth it. But just head in knowing that you will be left wishing that Relic Rush went for it a little more. Or maybe that was the point.