If you already listened to this week’s episode of the Portable Podcast, then you have a good idea of my thoughts on Interwave Studio’s stylized new endless runner game rComplex. If not, then check out my full review below.

A mix of stage-based platformer and endless runner, rComplex tells the the story of a man running for his life from a strange, tentacled beast. He has no memory of why he’s there or why he’s being chased, he just knows that he needs to run to survive. Armed with a shotgun (containing a limited number of bullets) and a scythe, he must survive long enough to find and collect the memory cubes which will help restore and reveal his past.

Not just another endless runner, I rather enjoy Interwave’s more story-driven take on the genre. Whenever the main character collects a new memory cube, you get another tiny glimpse of what secrets are locked away in his forgotten memories. Between stages, players are treated to comic-book style cut scenes which also help to narrate the action and set the scene. The limited ammo means that players must also contend with resource management, adding yet another new dimension to the game play. If you can successfully navigate three consecutive obstacles and avoid capture for 20 seconds you enter a somewhat serene “Zen Mode” in which you are safe from the monster (but not the obstacles) until you stumble.

The graphics in rComplex are a cool blend of silhouette and Mirror’s Edge-like bold bright colors on the interactive obstacles. Obstacles which player must jump over are colored green, while those which must be slid under are colored in blue. Every time you fire your weapon, there is an awesome stylized view of your remaining bullet count that scrolls in the background. For the most part, the graphics look really great, except for the aforementioned scrolling text and cut-scenes, which seem a bit blurry and up-scaled, and are in need of a bit of sharpening up. Oh, and did I mention its got a pretty kickin’ and intoxicating soundtrack?

rComplex has gone through its share of growing pains, since its initial release less than one week ago, but the improvements have really helped improve the experience. Initially you controlled the character only through swipe gestures, giving the game even more of a Mirror’s Edge feel. Constantly running forward, trying to stay ahead of the grasp of the monster’s deadly tentacles clawing at your back, you would swipe up to jump and swipe down to slide and tap the left side of the screen to fire your gun at the monster to cause it to temporarily retreat.

With last weekend’s update, Interwave added a new, second new control system (now the default) consisting of up and down arrow buttons for jumping and sliding. These controls drastically improve game play on small form factor devices by 200%! If you tried the game before and found it unresponsive on your iPhone, I highly recommend giving it another go. On the iPad the new touch controls also work quite well, but they are ergonomically a bit awkward as they are side by side. Fortunately I’ve had a chance to play an early release of the next build, where these buttons are now stacked, and they feel much better. That being said, I’d really love to see Interwave make it so players can reposition/re-size these buttons to their own liking (within reason), as the newly stacked jump button covers part of the action on the screen in the new layout.

Despite some optimizations done by the development team, there is still a little delay when it comes to jumping, which will sometimes result in a deadly stumble, but it is still much improved. For whatever reason, the slide continues to be far more forgiving, sometimes allowing you to successfully hit the slide button even when you are practically on top of the object you are trying to avoid. The game features an internal system for achievements for flawless runs, low death counts, and excelling through the story, but unfortunately they are not currently tied into Game Center. However, this functionality is already slated for a future build.

In Conclusion

I’ve found the rComplex to be a bit of fresh air in the endless runner genre, with an interesting back story of amnesia and survival. I’m glad I stuck with it through the initial changes, though I think it still has a few more kinks to work out. I am impressed with the speed at which the developers have addressed initial concerns and look forward to seeing where they take the game in the future. With more updates on the horizon, I certainly recommend checking out this title.