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XBLIG inspection: Run Away

An ongoing look at some of the titles available on XBLIG, with an emphasis on both excellence and originality...

Note: this is an amended version of the review which originally appeared on http://www.xboxindiegames.co.uk/

Released a week or so before Canabalt, Run Away was pretty much the first obstacle-course game to arrive on XBLIG - and together with The Impossible Game (released roughly a month later), it's still one of the best.

Boxart

As the name suggests, the gameplay is simple to grasp: the player controls an anonymous boy (hencefore: The Boy) walking through town to declare his love for his girlfriend - the worryingly-named Angry Girl. However, as presented via an entertaining - and text-free - animated sequence, The Boy makes the mistake of winding up a yapping dog, which then slips it's lead.  The only option is to run away, which in turn sets up a sequence of chases, as The Boy finds himself getting into more and more trouble: escaping the dog leads to an aggravated farmer; avoiding him upsets the policeman at the local market and so on - all the way up to a hungry dinosaur!

Screenshot

Thankfully, all of these enemies travel at the same speed as The Boy, which leaves him free to focus on avoiding the obstacles strewn in his path while collecting the many coins scattered over the landscape.  Essentially, there's two types of obstacles: high ones which he needs to duck under and low ones which can be jumped over.  Colliding with any of these causes The Boy to stumble, allowing the enemy to catch up - however, The Boy can also perform a high jump which allows him to regain some ground.  Care needs to be taken when using this though, as if he gets too far ahead, the enemy will put on a speed-spurt of their own - and some have other ways of slowing you down...

Successfully completing a level leads to another animated sequence which sets the scene for the next chase - entertainingly, if The Boy is caught by an enemy, you're treated to cut-scene detailing what happens when he does finally arrive at Angry Girl with the chaser in tow.  There's also an end-sequence for players skilled enough to reach Angry Girl unscathed and an extra-special end-sequence, for players who collect enough coins along the way - though sadly, I've yet to achieve this!

Screenshot

All told, there isn't much depth to Run Away's gameplay, but this is more than balanced out by the level design (challenging without being frustrating) and the distinctly British sense of humour which infuses the entire affair, from the plot to the graphics and sound effects.  There's a fine line between being crude and stylish and Run Away is firmly on the side of being stylish: the artwork is simple and brightly coloured while remaining consistent and clear - and while the sound effects all appear to have been voiced by the same person, they work really well.  It's a bit unfortunate that the difficulty level is probably scaled a bit too high for a younger audience, as Run Away's presentation and gameplay is pretty much perfect for anyone from eight to eighty!

Admittedly, Run Away isn't quite perfect: I found it surprisingly difficult to get the timings right on the fifth and final level and, there isn't any savepoint mechanism: no matter how far you've got, if you die then you have to start at the beginning of the game again. Admittedly, this isn't a major problem as there's only five levels, each lasting around a minute apiece...

Screenshot

For me, the low price and comedy value make up for the short length of the game: it's worth playing several times to see all of the start/failure/success animated sequences. Short, surreal and sweet, this is another fine example of a genuinely good XBLIG game!

 

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