Hands-On Preview: Don’t Run With a Plasma Sword

When aliens descend upon his city, B-movie style, what’s a spike-haired, hoodie-wearing teen to do? Naturally, he sprints for the nearest lightsaber and immediately defies the first commandment of handling such a dangerous instrument: don’t run with it! In fact, it seems he’ll be running all the way from his besieged city to the aliens’ home world — with help from a little intergalactic space ride, of course.

XperimentalZ Games kindly provided us a sneak peek at Don’t Run With a Plasma Sword even before it’s entered beta testing phase, and we’ve already got high hopes for this one. Imagine Stellar Escape, but with looser and more platforming-friendly jumping physics, and where the runner gets to vaporize enemies with a plasma sword along the way. It’s one of those game concepts that’s liable to strike a chord in many an iOS gamer’s heart, eliciting those three magical words every dev wants to hear: “sign me up!”

The comparison to Stellar Escape is instructive, because Don’t Run isn’t a tap-anywhere sprint; the player executes multiple actions via three virtual buttons in the early build we played. One is for jumping; one for a dive attack (while in the air) and sliding (while running on the ground); and the final reserved for swinging that awesome plasma sword. The buttons’ context sensitivity allows a range of actions, making Don’t Run more involving than your average iOS running game!

Also like Stellar Escape, Don’t Run features both a level-based campaign and endless modes. Don’t Run’s levels are seamlessly integrated, transitions taking the form of checkpoints the player can re-access after backing out to the game’s menu system. Once the player has accumulated some experience points by whacking away at enemies – a nice nod to Action RPGs – he or she can spend them on upgrades to the main character’s abilities, or even play dress-up if there are points to spare.

What I’m most looking forward to in the final are Don’t Run’s boss battles, which promise some really entertaining interludes if the sneak peek we’ve had of the work in progress is any indication. You know how Sonic the Hedgehog would race through levels at breakneck speed, but then had to stop to fight Dr. Robotnik all those times? In Don’t Run, the protagonist keeps up the pace while the player makes him dodge whatever the boss throws his way. And Sonic didn’t even have a lightsaber!

We’ll have more on Don’t Run With a Plasma Sword as it gets closer to release, including a developer interview and our usual iFanzine Verdict! In the meantime, keep an eye on XperimentalZ Games’ Twitter account, Facebook page, and developer website for the latest news on this exciting run-and-slash title!