European Studio Distinctive Developments will be launching a new game called Dead Runner later this month. It’s a unique take on the endurance run genre, immersing you in the action with a first-person point of view. It’s a somewhat creepy, yet exhillerating, almost Blair Witch like experience. Lost in the woods, you take off running through an eerie moonlit forest of dead trees. Is someone behind you? You’d better not stop and find out! The path ahead is coming into focus just in time as you carve your way through the thick fog, trying to avoid crashing into the trees speeding by.
Set to a spooky soundtrack, you select which game mode you want to play, distance or points and you are off an running, simply tilt the screen to adjust your direction and avoid the oncoming trees. In distance mode, you are basically try to see how far you can get before crashing into a tree. In points mode, you try to score as many points as possible by running into different colored glowing pickups, whilst still avoiding the trees. Dead Runner is completely random, so no two games are the same. The game integrates OpenFeint for mode-specific global leaderboards as well as 34 OpenFeint Achievements.
I was able to get my hands on a pre-release build of the game, and while Dead Runner is simple in concept, its definitely one of those quick pickup and play style games which brings out your “one-more-try attitude”, making it hard to put down once you start. The fog effect is executed brilliantly carefully concealing your path to require quick decision making. Also and test your reaction time is the gradual speed up of your running as you get further and further into the forest. The eerie music does a nice job of setting the mood and drawing you in, especially when played with headphones.
Unfortunately the version I played didn’t have any sound effects. I think the addition of footfalls and/or panting/breathing sound effects would really add to the realism and “suck you in” quality of the game. For the most part I thought the controls were dead on (no pun intended) but a few times I wished I could have turned a bit faster, perhaps an option to adjust the sensitivity and/or speed of the tilt would also be a nice addition. Finally, the trees are your one and only obstacle, while this creates a wonderfully encompassing disorientating feeling, a little variety never hurt.
Distinctive Developments informed us that the game will cost 99¢ at launch. So if you are looking for an endurance run game that offers a new perspective and you don’t mind a bit of the creeps as well, Dead Runner is definitely worth checking out. See some trailers below to wet your appetite.
Additional screenshots, etc can be found on the Facebook page for the game.