Endless runners are one of the most popular categories in the Play Store. Ignited by some big hits like Temple Run and Subway Surfers, the category has seen a massive boost in recent years. However, they’ve had to evolve throughout the years to keep their current users, so elements like special events and story modes were added on top of the original formula. Hercules Run tries to capitalize on the popularity of the genre and incorporates some features to stand out among its competitors.
Developer: Launchship Studios
Price: Free (with in-app purchases for in-game currency)
After a brief loading screen, the game asks you to connect it to Google Play Games. After allowing (or denying) the permissions it asks, you are shown the main screen. Pretty straightforward and typical for a game with Play Games integration.
The first thing you’ll notice is a steroids-infused guy on flip flops is dancing on the main screen. That’s the main character, called Hercules. He is wearing a bright orange… Dress or something. Anyways, this main screen has a plethora of options to choose from, such as an in-game shop, missions, and statistics. To start playing, you only have to tap the screen and the game will unfold.
When you play for the first time, the game will show you a tutorial with the basic controls needed, which aren’t complicated at all. Swipe to the left or right to move your character across the three lanes, swipe up to jump, and swipe down to slide. In-game, they’re pretty responsive and I didn’t have to fight against them in order to succeed.
The gameplay is pretty simple. If your character hits an obstacle, falls into the water, or one of the moving elements hits you, it’s game over. In addition, there are coins scattered throughout the level, which can be used to buy power-ups and new characters. Power-ups will also appear in the field, and they range from giving you twice the coins you collect, to your Hercules growing wings and flying across the scenery. They do a good job in spicing things up a bit.
However, the variety of the gameplay stops there. Aside from buying new characters, there’s no sense of progression in the game, such as special seasonal events, level increases or progression through a story. This is something other endless runners have already incorporated in order to boost their replay value. There are some daily challenges in which you collect letters that appear while running, and there are some missions that you can accomplish (such as collecting a certain amount of coins or running a certain distance), but they provide coins or gems, not progress.
There are very few moving elements and, after running for some meters, the exact same locations repeat. And I’m not only referring to the environment, but also to the obstacles. They appear in the exact same places. This is blatantly apparent in a section where you run through platforms on top of water. I’ve run my fair amount of kilometers and have encountered only two variations of this particular segment, but it has appeared several times.
Going through other aspects of the game, I can say that graphics are really colorful and its tropical theme is consistent throughout the game. It’s not the most detailed app, but graphics are adequate nonetheless. However, I found some instances in which my character hit some objects but the game didn’t register it (good for me, but bad for the game). Sound is also competent, with the right amount of sound effects. The music is definitely something you’ll love or hate. I personally don’t like it, but I won’t blame you if you do.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that, even though the game is definitely not pushing the GPU to its limits, I’ve found some performance issues. For example, I lost a game once because the game lagged and a giant rock rolled towards me in that small period. There’s also the previously mentioned errors when detecting hits. I had an instance in which I resumed the game from the recent apps menu and it never loaded. There was also a text that said “High Score” that never disappeared from the top of the screen, while other times it did.
For those of you who don’t like ads, let me tell you that you’d better not die, because when you do, you’ll be shown a full-screen ad the first two or three rounds after launching the game (and not just the first time), and an annoying dialog to connect the game to Facebook.
When Temple Run launched back in 2011, it caught everyone by surprise because of its addictive gameplay and responsive controls. However, things in the genre have evolved, and now more elements are being added to the core mechanic in order to add replay value. Hercules Run has failed to incorporate these elements, and while the gameplay is solid, it’s lack of distinctive features makes it difficult to recommend in a category filled with better contenders.