Escape from the Age of Monsters Review

I’m going to level with you here: I picked up Massive Joe Studios and Ayopa Games’ Escape from the Age of Monsters (Out Now, $0.99) based solely on its promise of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous art-style and graphics. Not something I’d usually do, but I honestly couldn’t resist checking out what Jeff Matsuda — comic book artist extraordinaire and Emmy award-winning producer of top-notch animated series like Jackie Chan Adventures and The Batman — had cooked up for his latest iOS project.

And surely enough, Escape doesn’t disappoint on the visual front. From the freakish character designs of the eponymous monster horde to the wonderfully exaggerated in-game animations which imbue the title with an irresistible Saturday morning cartoon-esque vibe, there is plenty of scrummy eye-candy on offer here. Sadly though, it all acts as window dressing for a somewhat pedestrian endless running romp.

Escape plonks players into the boots of a gangly, dweeby chap named Gizzard who finds himself involuntarily thrust into a hero’s role when some slimy monsters start laying siege to a city and a pair of magical gauntlets wind up in his possession. With a trio of younger kids in tow and a pack of slobbering beasties snapping at his heels, Gizzard makes a last-ditch rescue-cum-escape attempt by hotfooting it through a series of crumbling skyscrapers, obliterating obstacles and dispatching enemies with his groovy new red and blue gloves as he goes.

This is where you come in. Every barrier and foe Gizzard and co. come up against as they flee is color coded, so you’ve got to swing a punch with the appropriate gauntlet in order to clear the way; tapping the left side of the touchscreen takes out blue obstacles while anything red is destroyed with a tap to the right. If you mistime a punch and, as a result, a monster manages to snatch one of the kids, you lose a precious life (which is pretty gosh darn dark, if you ask me!). On a brighter note, stringing together three perfect punches unleashes ‘Turbo Mode’, in which points are more plentiful and Escape’s already rockin’ score reaches a crescendo of ear-splitting awesomeness.

Thanks to its manic energy and a steady stream of visual gags, Escape is a tough game not to enjoy, at least initially. A sense of humor and stylish visuals can only carry a game so far though, and despite putting a rather nifty color matching spin on the genre, this endless runner loses its luster after a few playthroughs.The desire to keep hammering the ‘retry’ button is also stymied by the fact it takes an agonisingly long time to earn enough in-game coins to unlock bonus items (unless you don’t mind shelling out for IAPs to speed up the process, of course).

iFanzine Verdict: Escape from the Age of Monsters is an unabashed exercise in style over substance and gameplay-wise it retreads ground already covered by other iOS endless running games, yet its Saturday morning cartoonesque aesthetic and madcap energy go a long way toward glossing over such shortcomings. Fun, but not for long.