Their take on the currently popular trend of free to play endless runner/ ‘go farther’ games, Duckers shakes its tail feathers at convention and opts for a much more relaxed and calculated approach than your traditional fast-paced auto-runner game. Instead of going right to left (ala Canabalt or Jetpack Joyride) or upwards in a Doodle Jump-style game, Duckers heads South.
After discovering a glass jar containing a while ball of living glowing material in the dirt, the protagonist, an extremely adorable duck named Duckers, frees the jar’s inhabitant, who affords him the ability to blast through the dirt as effortlessly as if he were flying through the air. Equipped with his new super powers, Duckers and his friend decide to hunt for treasure, deeper and deeper below the Earth’s surface.
Using one finger, you draw a trajectory/power arrow in a downward direction from Duckers and release to set him digging. He’ll automatically stop after some period of time, or when he his a larger object or the side of the screen. His goal is to pick up as much treasure as possible along the way including coins, gems, collectable objects and powerups, while avoiding obstacles like electric beams, spikey bugs and more.
Aside from the dragging mechanic, there are also sections of the game where you will be free-falling and you tilt your device to move Duckers left and right to collect items (and avoid baddies) as he’s falling. The mix control mechanics is a brillaint way to break up what would probably othwerwise become a bit monotinous.
If you’ve read my reviews of previous Retro Dreamer titles like Linkoidz and Velocispider, you’ll know that I am a big fan of their work, especially when the action gets fast and tough as nails. So the pacing of Duckers is quite a departure for me, and I find myself longing for an additional mode that would force moves and speed up the over all pacing of the game. That being said , the slower pace does make the game much more approachable to younger players or those looking for more strategic gameplay. That’s not to say that the game is super easy. Unlike a a traditional endless runner or go farther style game which relies heavily on quick reation times, deaths in Duckers are generally the result of poor planning on the part of the player. Since you can only go downward and you don’t know what’s coming there are times when you may accidentally dig yourself into a tricky situation.
As I mentioned at the outset, Duckers is free to play and you can happily enjoy the game without spending a even a penny. While on his quest, Duckers will collect coins, these coins can then be exchanged to unlock additional game content like new characters and locations or consumeables like one-time use powerups. The way that Retro Dreamer is subsidizing the game is through a series of IAPs for real money. These consist of bags of coins (to help you unlock content faster) and there is also what’s becoming a standard thanks to Jetpack Joyride, a coin-doubler for 99¢. While I understand that Retro Dreamer needs to keep coin prices on unlockables at a certain level to keep players from unlocking the content too quickly it seems like the in-game economy is a little off with the price of the unlockables leaning abit on the high end. The 99¢ coin doubler has become an instant buy for me in games like these, but even with 2x coins, it is going to take players a good deal of time to unlock everything.
With Duckers, Retro Dreamer offers a much different entry into the endless runner / go farther genre, which plays a bit more like a strategy game or Doodle JumpCanabalt or Jetpack Joyride. Its solid controls, delightful graphics and animations, soothing soundtrack and a relaxed pace will make it attractive to players who generally opt out of the reflex-taxing more traditional endless runners. Fans of faster-paced gameplay will find themselves longing for a way to speed things up. The cute characters may attract kids to the game, but the humor, like a character named ‘Mother Duckers’, will have have parents smiling too. I highly recommend grabbing copies of Duckers for evry member of your family…heck it’s FREE!