There’s a question that often enters my balding head, one that in this return to pick up and play/one minute/pooping games is more prevalent than ever: Do games need a point?
Games with plot and characters obviously have motivation and a reason to keep playing but then there’s endless run games like Temple Run, Canabalt and Save Them All which try to maintain player interest through the concept of power ups and score board whoring.
Save Them All is an endless runner with a plot. Unfortunately this plot seemed to be devised by a 14 year old that just thought to themselves “That would be cool!”, this is a thought that seemed to have been in the mind of the developers all the way through building this game; and it’s something that has brought this game both its best and worst aspects.
Unlike most endless runners this game features a story mode, and for what it’s worth this does add an interesting new concept to the genre that is, at its best, getting a bit creatively stagnant. Whilst progressing through the story mode you are awarded new abilities and with that each ability is unlocked in the endless running mode.
The game sees you play as a man that is cooler than Henry Winkler in an Igloo molesting a polar bear. With spiked hair, a trench coat and converse the main character is at best a superhero and at worst someone that’s having a bad trip and believes if they jump off the roof of a building that they can fly.
The game is from 2D perspective and is essentially a platformer where the run right button is permanently pressed. With this easing of the controls it means you only require a couple of buttons, one allows the player to jump and the other is just a general action button. Pressing the jump button obviously makes your character spring into the air, but if you hold it the character does what can only be described as a leap of faith, with arms clasping at the air and the legs peddling an invisible bike this is another occasion of the developers putting in something that is simply cool.
The action button is context sensitive, if the player presses it whilst running along a roof then “Cool Dude” (I as will now refer to him) lunges forward with a punch, and if pressed during a jump then Cool Dude plummets to the ground and sends out a shockwave destroying enemies.
The only peril in the game isn’t just the fall from 100ft up; there are also UFOs, meteors, nukes, zombies and slightly more annoying zombies. I would love to be able to say what the plot of the game was but a couple of things made this hard, there were about 3 or 4 comic book style cut scenes throughout the 10 missions of the game, and each of those was filled with awful writing and some artwork that just doesn’t look good enough to make this a top tier game. And that’s the problem with this game; it just doesn’t feel like it had the design or artistic skill that respected games need these days.
The running and jumping and killing zombies by punching nukes is awesome. The game on its own merits is fun and quite satisfying once you have completed a level, but then as you play the level you realise that the zombies and the main character whilst designed well are just not drawn well. The background artwork is great, with a sun and moon that look reminiscent of the quality of art you would get on classic Amiga games but then shoddy sprites in front pull you back into thinking this is something you’d expect to find on a free flash game site. The game’s novel powers unlocks are great, magnets to pick up energy, a force field or the ability to fly are all unlocked through the story but then the game’s biggest flaw comes in; touch screen swipes. Swipe down to activate magnet, swipe diagonally across the screen for the force field, all in all these are unresponsive and overly picky in terms of accuracy. It would generally take me 3 attempts to get an ability to unlock and when you’re playing an endless runner that features numerous ways to put your blood on the pavement below this just isn’t acceptable.
At its heart this game is fun and rewarding, with its unique upgrade system and enforcing of the cool principle this is a game that endless runner fans should pick up. If you see runners as a waste of time however this probably shouldn’t be your introduction to the genre, there’s free games like Temple Run which are far easier to get into. The game is cheap at 69p and with a bit of polish it could have been something special, but instead if falls into a long list of games that with a longer development time and slightly bigger team could have meet its potential. Fun but flawed.
+Original story mode with missions for campaign
+Interesting power ups
-Absolutely atrocious touch screen controls
+Amiga style background with some great attention to landscape
-Sprites just don’t match quality of the background producing a jarring experience
+Retro feel to sounds effects with good soundtrack
SCORE – 6/10