The “endless running” genre that was first made so popular by Semi-Secret Software’s Canabalt has been explored in many recent App Store releases, and Miniclip‘s Gravity Guy looks to expand further on the idea by introducing an interesting gravity-based mechanic into the mix.
Gravity Guy throws you into the shoes of a mysterious gnome figure with the ability to flip gravity at will. You’ve just escaped from prison, and now you’re on the run from what appear to be law-enforcement robots. It’s a minimalist story at best, but it does a decent enough job of setting up the action that follows.
As the gnome, you’ll run from left to right automatically. A robot will always be hot on your tail, so the trick is to not get caught up on parts of the environment, or you’ll be caught and promptly zapped with a laser gun. The only real tool at your disposal is your ability to flip gravity, which can be accomplished by tapping anywhere on the screen. You’ll have to use timing and your character’s momentum to successfully make it across large gaps, while other level segments will require you to rapidly switch gravity to avoid small gaps in levels.
An interesting (and I think problematic) part of the game’s design is that flipping gravity while in midair simply doesn’t work. This often makes the game unnecessarily frustrating, especially because of the speed at which later levels move. There are plenty of checkpoints, but I found myself dying over and over again so many times in some segments that the game was no longer fun. It’s a very trial-by-error sort of game, and while that actually works for games like Super Meat Boy or Mega Man, the fact that you have no real control over your character’s movement makes Gravity Guy downright frustrating.
There’s a multiplayer mode that allows up to four players to gather around one iPhone screen and compete to see who can survive for the longest amount of time, but (as you might imagine) even two fingers jabbing at an iPhone at once is enough to completely obscure the on-screen action from all of the players, so that too is a throwaway addition.
Gravity Guy isn’t a bad game, especially at its price point, but players who put any amount of time over 20 minutes into the game will find that eventually it becomes something of a joyless chore to play. If you’re in need of a pick-up-and-play title to tide you over on your commute the game might be worth considering, but most gamers will want to pass on this one.
[Ryan Rigney is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]