I have heard various companies before talk about the concept of striving for a single button experience when aiming to create games for mobile devices with awkward input interfaces. Yet – despite all this talking – I haven’t ever before seen a non-trivial game actually feature such an input, probably because it’s rather hard to create a meaningful experience where the player only ever does precisely one thing over and over.
Forest Moon Games has decided to ignore that particular hang-up and create an engaging game that uses precisely one input all-the-same, and have thusly brought us the recently released Relic Rush (out now, $0.99).
In Relic Rush you take control of a daring little explorer as he charges forward through various locales in search of the ever elusive idols, your sole method of control over him is your ability to make him temporarily stop moving forward. Otherwise – when you’re not holding the screen – the intrepid hero will automatically run through fields, climb ladders, and jump every single gap he comes across all on his own. Using this extremely simple set up the game essentially becomes a timing puzzle of sorts, as you have to figure out when to successfully run through areas (while lives are unlimited, you are scored based on how quickly you finish a level set).
Relic Rush’s control simplicity is matched with an equally simple – yet elegant – low pixel art style, with quite a bit of variety in the scenery and obstacles that the hero journeys about (and even the explorer’s appearance himself changes in different locations).
The stop-and-go action includes runs through jungles filled with hopping frogs, caverns filled with lava that threatens to boil over, mountains peaks plagued with snowball throwing yetis, and even haunted houses filled with spooky ghosts. It is seriously to the game’s credit that despite having 100 different screens to run through, the developer constantly finds new and unique timing situations to put you in such that Relic Rush never feels likes its just repeating things.
The flip side of the equation is that the game’s input – singular – is as simple as they come, making many of the classic endless runner titles look like infinitely complex contraptions when put next to Relic Rush. Considering many iDevice owners already consider famous endless runners such as Punch Quest (our review) to be far too simplistic and limiting, it’s a safe bet that these same people will be even less enthused with Relic Rush. However – if the idea of a game having precisely one input doesn’t scare you off – then you should probably check out Relic Rush, it contains a lot of engaging gameplay for a very low price.
iFanzine Verdict: Relic Rush is a game that proves that sometimes the greatest of simplicity can lead to some of the most challenging of situations, and comes with an extremely well rendered low-pixel art style to boot. However, when the game is extremely more simplistic in its controls than a ton of other good games that some people already hate for their staggering simplicity, it’s a safe-bet that Relic Rush will not be a lot of players’ preferred cup of tea. However, the 100 included levels – featuring a variety of locations and obstacles – will certainly guarantee that anyone who can get past the simplicity will definitely get more than their money’s worth.