An evil force has taken over the world, destroying life and shrouding everything in gloomy darkness. It falls upon one man to take on this shadowy force by harnessing the powers of ancient totems, which will restore life once again in the universe.
Sure, it’s a run-of-the-mill plot, but that’s not really the point of Totem Runner. Developer Chillingo is trying to introduce something new into endless platforms: the ability to change your character mid-game. It’s a new gameplay mechanism, but is it actually entertaining or just a gimmick?
On The Run
Our mystical protagonist has the magical power of transforming himself into different animals. There are two that you will use most often: the eagle and the rhino.
Even though he can take on the greatest evil and has more than one animality (hello, Mortal Kombat fans!), our hero does not posses the ability to jump. For that, he must rely on transforming into an eagle by pressing and holding the ‘eagle’ icon in the right corner, while controlling the eagle’s flight altitude by tilting the phone or using up and down arrow keys on the left.
While the eagle lets him soar over deep ravines, there are often obstacles in his path that he simply must barrel through. To do that, he needs to to activate his wonder ring and take the form of a rhino, by pressing and holding the appropriate icon in the bottom-left corner. The rhino will break through barricades and even kill enemies in the path.
Enemies and Pitfalls
Oh yes, there are plenty of different types of enemies in the game, from the plant-like Kulaba to the bow-and-arrow-wielding Shikari Urdu. There’s also the arachnid Vizarda Makari, who causes our protagonist to automatically transform into a spider and unleash a ‘mantra of light’. Yeah, the game’s riddled with such names derived from Hindi, which sound nonsensical even to me as an Indian.
Still, beat the enemies you must, and sometimes that can be a Herculean effort. In such cases, you can always turn to your most fearsome power, that of transforming into a dragon. This can be activated by spending some of the gems you collect while running, and it takes you safely from one checkpoint to the next. Gems can be bought through the game’s store as well, but I don’t think it’s worth it — you collect enough of them in-game and Totem Runner isn’t so hard that you’ll need to call on your dragon form very often.
To Download Or Not To Download?
The gameplay is fun and makes you want to keep playing, and I also liked the graphical scheme, which has the runner and most of the world visible only as dark silhouettes, while the background is washed in colour to set them off. It means you don’t get distracted easily and the important things pop out well in the contrast.
As an endless platformer, Totem Runner gets everything right and I like the added element of turning into different creatures to conquer your quest. The storyline and narration is extremely silly, but if you can brush that aside, this is a fun game and worthy of space on your memory.