In a world where endless runners are now as prevalent as platform puzzlers and tower defense, I imagine it's tough for newcomers trying to make their mark on the genre. Bulwark Studio's latest release, Rōnin [$0.99], looks to take the typical endless runner and infuse it with a beautiful art style, a somewhat in-depth upgrade system and some hard-work with a lack of IAP. While the combination of the above certainly makes the game worth a look, bland gameplay along with some issues with timing keep it from being more than just a pretty face.

The first thing you'll notice when firing up Rōnin are its highly stylized visuals. Taking a page from such games as Autumn Dynasty (although admittedly not as nicely done), Rōnin's graphics are heavily inspired by classical Japanese artwork. Each of the backdrops your samurai runs through are nicely detailed and have a pseudo-storybook look. This attention to detail even extends to the game's enemies and animations, although some look out of place in comparison to the rest of the artwork. Still, as far as endless runners go, it does have a unique look and feel.

Unfortunately the nice visuals aren't enough to overcome the relatively generic endless runner gameplay. Players have the option of swiping to the right to swing a sword, swiping upward to jump and downward to slide. All of the enemies require you to utilize these swipes in various ways to take them out. For example, the Ogre must be hit in the head (requiring you to swipe up to jump followed by a sword swipe) while the archer requires you to slide under the arrows before dispatching with your blade. Meanwhile, wisps are scattered throughout the levels which can be collected and put towards the utilization of a spell, while a quest system gives players a goal to work towards during each 'segment' of the run.

Players earn both experience for dispatching enemies and reputation for completing quests by getting to the end of the section. Experience goes towards a leveling system, which allows you to apply skill points to spells (which are powered by wisps and can be swapped out) or passive effects (such as an extra life). Reputation increases your score multiplayer, allowing you to reach higher scores. The game starts out pretty tough until you earn enough skill points, but once you've earned some level-ups the game does expand in terms of longevity and skill set. I also appreciate the fact that there are no IAPs in the game, meaning folks will have to earn their way to those later levels.

The above system is pretty decent for an endless runner, but unfortunately it isn't implemented as well as I'd like. Hit and dodge detection feels decidedly imprecise, which can lead to some frustrating episodes considering the entire experience focuses on attacking your enemy before they get a shot at you. In addition, while the spell system offers a little bit of variety and replayability to the game, it takes way too long to earn wisps, which leaves the limited passive effects as the only worthwhile goals. There's also the fact that the quest system is decidedly generic and feels tacked on to the rest of the game.

Rest assured, as far as endless runners goes Rōnin certainly has a unique style in regards to visuals. However, even the decent Asian motif isn't enough to overcome what is rather standard endless runner gameplay. True, any differentiators are better than none in this genre, but all games with 'unique' elements are not created equal. Based on this, I imagine Rōnin will probably only pique the interests of either dedicated endless runner gamers or fans of its Asian-influence art style. Otherwise, there isn't much here to explore.

TouchArcade Rating


    This review will make waves if the impressions in the thread are anything to go by...

  • Jordan

    I think I'm done with "pretty standard" endless runners. Unless you're offering me something Temple Run doesn't offer then stop wasting my time developers. Thanks.

  • grits

    This game is very good. Much better than Temple run. I would give it 4 stars. This game has no in app purchases and is pure skill-based. The graphics are beautiful and the control is spot on. Highly recommended.

  • Friv

    This game good looks

Rōnin Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3