Considering how cramped the endless genre feels on iOS, new entries have to try pretty hard to distinguish themselves from the pack. Some titles try to wow with unique art styles, while others focus on improving the actual gameplay experience (while the best games accomplish both). Chillingo's Endless Road [Free] squarely falls in the former, with a great visual presentation that certainly feels unique. However, a relatively basic gameplay experience coupled with a somewhat onerous IAP scheme may leave players wanting more.

As far as endless runners go, Endless Road doesn't deviate much from the norm. Players drive their vehicle across a three-lane highway with the goal of getting as far as possible in a single run. Meanwhile, vehicles and barriers (such as pits, walls and so on) litter the lanes, requiring you to maneuver between the lanes avoiding traffic. Coins can also be collected during a run, allowing players to purchase new vehicles, color schemes, and power-up in an in-game shop. Each run is comprised of 'stages' which give players the opportunity to choose which routes to go to at the end of each, which is a neat way of adding some player choice in an otherwise random setting.

One wrinkle in the traditional gameplay formula is the emphasis on speed in Endless Road. The road is continually collapsing behind your vehicle, forcing you to keep your vehicle's speed up. Anything above 80 MPH is safe, while falling below that means that the road collapsing will eventually outpace your car, ending the run. Meanwhile, going above 80 MPH gives you some wriggle room but your speed will take a tumble if you hit vehicles. Red and grey arrows are also found on the road, with red increasing your speed and grey decreasing it.

Another interesting facet about Endless Road's speed mechanism is the careful balance players must have between speed and slow arrows. While folks will obviously want to keep their speed above 80 MPH as much as possible, the game also seems to penalize folks that go too fast. Stay above 80 for an extended period of time and you'll find yourself nearly outpacing the generation of the road, making it extremely hard to dodge oncoming vehicles and barriers. While I can see how this may add to the strategy of a run, I still found it particularly frustrating.

In addition, another frustrating aspect of Endless Road is the simple fact that it feels too basic. The use of a three-lane style of movement (as opposed to say, five-lanes) takes away a lot of the strategy involved with having more choice of movement. In addition, a lot of runs in Endless Road seem to end up with you making a mistake or two and watching your run slowly end because of the lack of any speed-boosts in the vicinity. It sounds strange, but I'd rather have a run end quicker rather than a prolonged death throe on the hope that I can somehow salvage it (which almost never happens). I'm also not a fan of the currency system, with vehicles and color changes costing far too much without resorting to IAP.

As mentioned earlier, Endless Road's most impressive quality is its visual style. Employing a scheme that feels both futuristic and minimalist at the same time, Endless Road has a lot of vibes reminiscent of Wipeout. This sort of motif even extends to the little details, whether its the way the road seems to rise up and collapse during a run, to even the game menus. The isometric view does lead to an occasional blocking of the lanes, making the game more difficult than it already is. However, I'm still a big fan of the art style and it certainly does what it can to carry the game as a whole.

My only concern is I don't think that Endless Road's visuals do enough to carry the game to lofty heights. Sure, the game looks and sounds great, but the three-lane style of play and supplemental upgrades/power-ups feel pretty basic and somewhat mundane. As it stands, Endless Road is still worth a try for endless aficionados based on what it does well, but I have doubts as to whether it'll become your long-term endless game of choice.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • bobcorrigan

    I had so many problems with this game I had to delete it from my iPad3:

    1. Why, oh why, does it have to crash Every Single Time I purchased *anything* in the garage?

    2. Why, oh why, are all of those garage purchases single use items?

    3. When you generate even a moderate amount of speed, you're plastered against the top of the screen. . .which runs you in to stuff. . .which slows you down. . .which dumps you off the back of the screen.

    4. When you're in the subway, even if you line up to leave the subway properly, the game ends when the subway ends. This has nailed me three times.

    5. For a game that's already pretty difficult, why are there police cars?

    Looking at the amount of coins it takes do actually do anything of value in the garage, the feeling this game gives me is that it's shaking me down.

    I had to play Tiny Wings HD for a few minutes after each session to remind me what a satisfying game felt like.

    Not Recommended. Phooey.

    • MidianGTX

      I didn't have any crashes, but agree with some of the other complaints. I really disliked being punished for going too fast, particularly when slowing down often left me with no red arrows to hit, regardless of how well I played. As soon as I got to the rock section and saw all the arrows appearing inside of the rocks, I gave up. The basic premise of controlling your speed is flawed when the random generation of the arrows often leaves you in impossible situations.

    • Greyskull

      Why, oh why, did you buy iaps without knowing if the game will even handle them correctly? Uniformed purchases will lead to more iap-infested crapware being released. Instead of spending a buck or two on iaps, buy a game or two that have none.

      • bobcorrigan

        That's my point exactly. I spend NOTHING on IAPs unless I am utterly in love with the game. The last one I felt truly good about IAPs was Solomon's Keep and Solomon's Boneyard. That was VALUE for money.

  • http://twitter.com/mrcfield Chris Field

    How on earth did you manage to review this game? It's nigh on impossible to play without it crashing.

  • mATHESIUZS

    it isn't crashing on my itouch 4 :) it is good game but i'm stuck atm with a challenge: jump over one police car.. i did it a lot of times but it always doesn't mark it as done.. but amyway it's great fun :)

  • http://twitter.com/hawkenking hawken king

    Sadly, I only got to play this game once. Despite trying all manner of restarts and uninstalls, the game crashes repeatedly on the title screen.

    I did notice in my one play that it was rather difficult and speed up power up just sent me careening into the top lane.

    My only comment on the graphical style is that it could be more zoomed in.

    But yes, this game suffers from crashing every time I start up (seems like game center login is kicking the app in the balls)

  • Eleventhvolume

    I think Touch Arcade is great, but if you're going to review a game you really should check comments on iTMS and elsewhere - this game is the buggiest I've ever played. You should be acknowledging the large number of problems users are experiencing at the start of the review.

  • http://www.the-app-shack.com Matt F

    The pacing of the vehicle feels akward, and why the car decreases speed automatically? Why not keep it steady? And that horrible IAP... Bummer because the rest of the game is awesome.... 3 stars would be too generous here. Also, not one crash, iPhone 4 lastest iOS here

  • http://twitter.com/Rage_boi Vince

    The color scheme used reminds me of Mirror Edge :0

  • http://twitter.com/hawkenking hawken king

    "3. When you generate even a moderate amount of speed, you're plastered against the top of the screen. . .which runs you in to stuff. . .which slows you down. . .which dumps you off the back of the screen."

    - this.

    What a terrible game!

  • soundshaper

    I Really would love to see an update bringing 5 lanes to the game, cos I love the art style, it must be actually quite easy to implement in an update. the game has potential to be so much more fun... And I'd rather pay for a premium game too! Please stop IAP and freemium games !

Endless Road Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5