When Imangi Studios originally launched Temple Run [Free] in August of 2011, the small indie developer had no idea the kind of phenomenon it would go on to be. In fact it wasn't even a success right off the bat, and only after a switch to free-to-play about a month after release did it start to build up some momentum before flourishing late in the year and all throughout 2012. The latest tally is that Temple Run has been downloaded and played by more than 170 million people across all platforms. That's just insane.

Now with Temple Run a household name and the kind of bona fide success that can spawn a successful spinoff game with a major Disney movie in Temple Run Brave [$0.99], a proper sequel has stealthily landed in the App Store. Not a lot has changed in Temple Run 2 on a fundamental level, it still plays very much like the original game you know and love, but it has received a massive upgrade in the visual department along with a few new tweaks to the formula that make it a substantial improvement over the first game in just about every way. It feels like a fresh start, a new Temple Run that's geared towards the future.

I'm sure most everyone is familiar with how Temple Run works, but just for kicks let's go over the basics. You follow your perpetually running character from a third-person perspective as they're being chased by a humongous demonic primate. You see, your adventurer swiped the beast's precious idol and that didn't seem to go over too well, so now you've got to run for your life.

Control of your character is handled by swiping up or down to jump over or slide under obstacles, and swiping left or right to turn when necessary. Tilting your device moves the character back and forth inside the lane for collecting coins and avoiding additional hazards. That's about all there is to it, and it works great. Temple Run 2 is one of those perfect games to play with just a single free hand, for just a few minutes at a time or for hours on end as you tirelessly try to top your best run. Nothing has changed with the sequel in that regard.

The biggest improvement in Temple Run 2 is in the graphics department. The game has been built from scratch in Unity and boasts gorgeous lighting and colors as well as extremely fluid animations. My one gripe is that the draw distance isn't the best, which means environmental elements will pop-in right in front of your eyes. It doesn't really bother if you're focusing on not dying like you should be, but it's still kind of disappointing considering what iOS devices are capable of.

The original Temple Run didn't have that great of a draw distance either, but it was masked quite ingeniously using a fog effect that worked well with the dank jungle theme. In Temple Run 2 you're running in a temple in the sky, so everything is right out there in the open. This new sky temple is great though, offering a much more dynamic feel to the level design. The track will curve, dip and elevate in ways that the rigid straightaways of the first game never did. It feels like a more organic environment, and it also keeps you on your toes just a tad bit more since you never really know what's coming around the next bend.

Like I said before Temple Run 2 is a beautiful game, and there's a greater variety to the types of scenery you'll see, like various temple ruins architecture and forests with sunbeams poking through the leaves. There's a couple of new environmental elements too, like a zip line to ride and mine cart sections. These parts aren't drastically different from the rest of the game's normal running, but they do add some additional drama and excitement to your adventure.

Temple Run 2 brings back 4 playable characters from the original, and each one is associated with a specific power-up. As you unlock the additional characters beyond the default Guy Dangerous, their associated power-ups become unlocked too for any character. There's the standard set of upgradeable attributes too, like a Head Start boost and a coin value increaser, which are also shared across all characters.

The power-up you choose for your character can be activated with a double tap once you've collected enough coins to fill up the associated meter on your screen. The power-up itself can be upgraded too, using the game's premium gem currency. Both coins and gems are available as IAP and are also earned through play. The coins come at a relatively fast clip, especially if you splurge on the IAP coin doubler, but the gems are typically few and far between. It still feels balanced though as the number of gems needed for normal upgrading is gradual.

One other use for the premium gems and something that's a huge change in Temple Run 2 from its predecessor (as well as a point of contention with some of its fans) is the ability to continue your run after a death by spending gems. This essentially sullies the scoring as in theory you could drop enough cash on IAP gems that you could just continue on forever.

The cost to continue doubles in gems each time, and it's possible there's a limit to how much you can continue that I just haven't seen yet. Even so I'm not super interested in the leaderboards anyway so it doesn't really bother me, I just have fun playing for the sake of it. Still, adding a special "sudden death" leaderboard where continuing with gems isn't allowed would be a nice compromise. Really what's more annoying to me is the un-skippable continue countdown that plays after a run ends. It would be nice to be able to immediately retry.

If you weren't a huge fan of the first Temple Run then I doubt the sequel will drastically change your mind. Though, it's free, so I'd say just try it anyway just in case it clicks differently for you this time around. You don't have anything to lose. If you loved the original game then I think you'll love Temple Run 2 just as much or more so. Granted the continuing aspect is kind of suspect and there's some minor technical issues, but Temple Run 2's improvements far outweigh its flaws.

There are plenty of more complex runners out there, and the beauty of the App Store is that you're free to play any and all of them to suit your tastes. But Temple Run 2's simplicity and intangible "something" is what made its predecessor a game that I always went back to even in the face of a smorgasbord of alternatives, and it's what will keep this on my device easily within thumb's reach for a long time to come.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Jazzpha

    Solid review, Jared.

    In before "Why does this game get 4.5 stars if it's so derivative when you slam other games for their lack of originality all the time?"

    Eli: "Reviews are subjective, try going outside and see how you feel in half an hour."

    • MrSpud

      Why don't you get some puppets and reenact the whole scene!

      • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.cochrane.31 Morgan Cochrane

        Because that's stupid

    • http://www.facebook.com/contest.chris Contest Chris

      Sheep

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Thanks

  • MmAaXx

    Wow.. Another templerun review! Lol xD

    • Karzay

      I thought it was funny too. I think TA should create an award for the most reviewed game of the year. If they like being redundant, then they should own it.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      This is the only Temple Run 2 review, actually.

  • lr1919

    Love the game, hate the gems. It completely ruins the leaderboards... That said, I'm not overly upset about it because its not like I'd be at the top with 20M+ players.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tthrasher Terry Thrasher

      Is it seriously different from the first game though? Once I'd maxed my multiplier I had little to spend my coins on, and eventually had hundreds of resurrection wings. My best run (20.2m) probably involved activating the wings more than twenty times, and I think I only died because I failed to activate them at the right time. The gems auto-save you but at a steeper cost.

      All this said, I only really compare myself to my friends, who must be crushed, and not the general population.

  • grits

    Dont like temple run at all. Terrible game.

  • grits

    For the record I like pitfall and think it is a much better game.

    • err404

      I really liked Pitfall. It has a fun story with actual progression. The endless runner genre also feels like a good fit for the franchise, but its dependence on IAP to unlock checkpoints and continue really hurts the game.
      IAP in TR2 on the other hand feels more balanced. The coin collection rate feels about right with the coin doubler. Enough so that any other IAP is not needed ( in HATE consumable IAP and refuse to buy it).
      Pitfall deserves to be the better game, but fails due to poor monetization.
      Devs, I would pay as much as $10 for a re-imaged Pitfall if IAP were completely removed.

  • Jacob Gehman

    I'm a fan of the gem acquisition addition. Granted, I don't pay attention to leaderboards (I don't even know how to view them), but as someone who wouldn't do the IAP option, it is is fun to acquire them in-game and then figure out my best use of said gem. Do I save up a bunch then build-up my power-ups? Do I continue a good run? So yeah. I'm a fan of the gems.

  • Galsia

    The leaderboards are a waste anyway with the top lot filled with cheaters. I think the gems are a good idea if you are trying to beat your top score but I don't pay for any of them. Once I'm out of them that's my game over.

  • miggyf

    Best ever

  • http://www.facebook.com/contest.chris Contest Chris

    Temple Run...nice. Let's give 4.5/5 for a sleepy sequel, and give 1/5 for a FF game not to your taste or 2/5 for a Borderland just because it isn't your take on Borderlands game or 2/5 for a tech demo that pushes the mobile graphics boundary and features as much repetition in here.

    • toxiccheese

      Well a review is an opinion right? TA reviews are exactly that, one persons opinion. You are certainly entitled to yours as well. You should try to find a review site/reviewer that has tastes similar to yours. I don't always agree with TA either, but for the most part I enjoy reading the reviews. As for FF and the Borderlands reviews, I agree that they were not very good at all. But that's my opinion.

      • Dams

        They are not only opinions as they are visible enough to hurt sells...

      • toxiccheese

        Well if a game has bad ratings or bad reviews, who's fault is that??? The reviewer or the dev? No sane person reviews a game with the sole intention of hurting sales. Why bother reviewing games at all... Lets just give out positive reviews to boost sales no matter how good or bad the game is. The only reason to complain about someone's review is because it doesn't fall in line with your personal feelings about the game.

      • Dams

        The problem is when TA give a bad rating but customers gave good one il the App Store (or the contrary)

        Minigore 2 come to my mind lately, very good store rating, only 3.5* TA because it was too much like the "previous one". Just like this game, but this one got 4.5...

        So no, it's not "just an opinion" esecially when your site have a lot of readers.

      • toxiccheese

        It is an opinion. The App Store rating is an average right? That means some people gave it high ratings and some gave it low ratings. At 3.5, that means it has good and bad. Not all good. That also means that some of those people gave the same ratings as TA. Those ratings on the App Store are all individual opinions.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        The original Temple Run got a 4.5 and this got the same score.

        The original Minigore didn't get a star score because we didn't' do that at the time, but it likely would have been in the 3-3.5 range. It was a pretty middling review.

        So I don't understand what you're trying to say. More of a good game is a good thing. More of a mediocre game is a... mediocre thing, I guess.

    • Wikilix

      Borderlands and the FF game are both terrible IMO. But I'm intrigued by your point with dead trigger. They both have repetitive gameplay, so much it's unbearable, but Temple run 2 receives the better score.

  • MidianGTX

    Sorry Jared, I genuinely don't understand this one. The improvements just aren't enough of a draw. There's the new setting, a few new objects scattered around and some of the most dull and uninspired unlockable characters I have ever seen, to the extent that you don't even want to unlock them because you already have the best one, and he's still pretty boring. The "so what's new?" elements of this review practically started and finished with one sentence because the gameplay essentially boils down to a big ol' pile of same old, same old.

    Is the score here based on the strengths of the first game? If review websites fail to detract points for unoriginality in sequels, developers will be in danger of becoming lazy and Call of Duty will never change. That thought terrifies me.

    • MrAlbum

      Have you ever heard of "the sophomore slump"?

      In music, it means that a musical artist's follow-up fails to reach the same heights as their debut album, most likely due to the fact that the artist in question probably blew all their talent on their debut and barely had anything left over for the next album.

      If the artist in this example is able to craft their follow-up to not only the same quality as their debut (read: MORE OF THE SAME) AND improve on the qualities that made the debut good, then the artist has a bright artistic future because it shows an incremental (yes, INCREMENTAL) growth as an artist, which is better to see than a creative crash.

      I think the same logic can be applied to Video Games: if a sequel is an incremental improvement over the first game, then it should be praised for that because the alternative is for the sequel to have none of what made the original good with no innovation to supplant the absence of the first entry's influence. The Legend of Zelda games are stuck in this cycle of incremental improvements as well as the Mario games, which explains how they continue to be critically well-received despite being "more of the same".

      Thus, it could be argued that the point of a sequel is to a.) be familiar to the first game with minor improvements, or b.) reboot the series and take it in a completely original direction. I'm sure Temple Run could be reconfigured as a turn-based strategy game with similar mechanical similarity to the Active Time Battle system pioneered by Final Fantasies IV through VI and be just as fun, but should a sequel be spit-roasted over the critical fire because it did NOT take option b? Heck no. Both options are good options and have their own merits and drawbacks.

      • MidianGTX

        I understand how that could work in music, but I think games are different. It's far easier to essentially "copy and paste" with games, to the extent that thousands of lines of code will be completely identical in both. If a music artist's second album was -actually- the same recorded drum beats and riffs, with nothing but new vocals thrown on top, I don't think they'd be taken seriously and I don't think they'd be considered to have a bright future either.

      • MidianGTX

        Eh, can't edit my previous comment, but I wanted add the point of many Nintendo fans being dismayed at the way Mario and Zelda games are repeating the formula. Nintendo have stated themselves that they remain the same in order to appeal to new fans, which is a bit of a middle finger to existing fans who wanted progress. I'm not sure enough time has passed for Temple Run 2 to be appealing to a new generation of gamers who missed the first one.

      • MrAlbum

        Perhaps it is better to say that the perspective I brought up is coming from the standpoint of the reviewer. They see so many games both fresh/new and tired/old that things tend to blur after a while; all games have some form of good/bad controls, all games have art styles that are love/hate depending on tastes, all games could be fun if seen from X or Y perspectives, etc.... This means that a reviewer has literally "seen it all", and as such doesn't much care for some supposed "originality" because he/she's already seen it before, 999/1000 times.

        Hence, they narrow their focus on the particular game that they are reviewing, and discuss that independent of the rest of the video game market FIRST before they start mentioning similar games out there, because there are likely a TON of similar games on the market. This pattern to reviewing is a LOT more fair than comparing the game to a checklist of "awesome games that do something similar", which in my experience always results in the game failing to hold up to the classics that came first, and that if there is any innovation in the new game it is slight compared to the games that "did it first".

        Does this mean that reviews are not useful? Of course not. It just means that in order for a reviewer to give a game a fighting chance before passing judgment requires putting all preconceptions and past experiences aside and seeing how the game grips you before comparing that experience to the experiences of the past. I call it detachment.

        As to the disparity between critic and fan perspectives, it most likely boils down to this key difference: Fans want experiences that are different from what they have played before, hence the focus on innovation and what that innovation does to gameplay. They want something "new". Also, they want to see that innovation happen in the series that they have grown to love and cherish, and they expect those sequels to dramatically change the landscape of gameplay in the same way the originals did, because in their minds something that was innovative should continue that trend of innovation, otherwise the sequel isn't what they want to see their favorite franchise doing.

        In other words, they want to have their cake and eat it.

        This perspective of fans fails to see that if you change a core component of a game's mechanics in an "innovative" manner, you change the feel of the entire game and run two very large risks: 1.) the innovation isn't fun, or 2.) the innovation changes the game into something it wasn't intended to be, which confuses the direction of the game during its development. For example, Super Mario RPG is vastly different from Super Mario World, although they both have Mario in them and could be considered as part of the overall Mario franchise. In this case, the innovation's risks (branching into turn-based RPG's) paid off, but there have been instances where sequels tried to innovate and tanked in spectacular fashion (see: Final Fantasy XIV).

        Hence, it is actually easier to innovate with new IPs, because there are no preconceptions weighing the game down, no "original" that determines characters/art styles/audio cues/etc.... No baggage to hold the game down during development, which gives a TON more freedom on the devs to do interesting and cool things with the game they are developing.

        Personally, I want to see what Imangi does with new IPs separate from their Temple Run brand. I think that such a venture will have a much more positive reception than any further sequels, at least for now. Because if you changed the core mechanics of Temple Run, it would be very hard to identify it as a Temple Run game, and the new mechanics could suck balls and kill the franchise. Sure, such a change could be a lightning strike, but it is a risk, and it depends on if the devs have ANY innovative ideas at all to try to put Temple Run in.

        Anyway, that's what I think about the points you brought up. Great discussion, by the way, it's keeping my mind sharp.

      • MrAlbum

        Personally, I want to see what Imangi does with new IPs separate from their Temple Run brand. I think that such a venture will have a much more positive reception than any further sequels, at least for now. Because if you changed the core mechanics of Temple Run, it would be very hard to identify it as a Temple Run game, and the new mechanics could suck balls and kill the franchise. Sure, such a change could be a lightning strike, but it is a risk, and it depends on if the devs have ANY innovative ideas at all to try to put Temple Run in.

        Anyway, that's what I think about the points you brought up. Great discussion, by the way, it's keeping my mind sharp.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I don't understand the problem. I love Temple Run and this is a new and better version. I enjoy it more than the original and now I can replace the first game with a graphically superior and more interesting sequel. Why should it be marked down for that?

      It's like the people that say Apple HAS to change the iPhone and that each new iPhone isn't different enough from the last. Yet, they sell millions of them every time and people continue to love them despite just incremental improvements.

      Changing something just for the sake of changing something isn't necessarily a good thing. There are 170 million Temple Run fans and if Imangi just threw everything out the window in favor of doing something different just "because" you would have a lot of disappointed fans. I would be one of them.

      • toxiccheese

        Aren't game reviews based on the actual game and not what it could potentially be or what came before it? Just because they made a game that iterates on the original formula but with vast improvements, doesn't make it a bad game. If its fun, then I see no problem.

      • MidianGTX

        It doesn't make it bad, but other games are judged on how much they innovate, why shouldn't this one be? Lazy clones get marked down for being lazy clones. This is essentially a lazy clone made by the same people who made the original.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        I don't think rebuilding the game from scratch in a new engine would qualify as "lazy."

        Anyway, what are you actually referring to? I rate a game based on how much fun I think it is more than anything else, and leave the details for the text itself. Yes, innovative ideas are appreciated and noted but something doesn't HAVE to be innovative in order to still be fun.

        Basically all I can gather from your comments is that you don't like TR2 and didn't think it was fun, and somehow that means I'm not allowed to think it's fun either.

      • Mj1ggy

        The whole argument is spurious because it punishes developers for releasing a great game the first time around. Great gameplay has a timeless quality that storytelling can't really emulate. Take the Mario series, for instance. The story is EXACTLY THE SAME in every game yet the early games are still enjoyable because the gameplay was so damn good. Yes, each game introduced novel elements, but the basics of platforming and powering up were always present. Maybe Temple Run 2 didn't change or improve enough for your liking but knocking it because its similar to the first game doesn't hold up. Would we be happier if a shoddy first game was released and then the sequel was a massive improvement over that?

      • MidianGTX

        Then what's exciting about it? Minor improvements are welcome, but they're nothing to shout about. I bought a new refrigerator recently, it was an improvement on the old model, but it didn't thrill me. If it'd come with a built in coffee machine on the other hand... I'd have given it 4.5 stars.

      • Mj1ggy

        Maybe you have high expectations for what should constitute an improvement over a previous model? If you can't be happy with a refrigerator unless its MORE than a refrigerator how can you ever be happy with a sequel unless it is entirely different? I didn't really like TR2 but I think your argument is flawed and that greatness can come without pure innovation. Unfortunately I'd say the industry is on top of these things with COD staying relatively the same (possibly even inferior to the original Modern Warfare) while still selling boatloads of games. If you don't want to buy games that are too similar to previous iterations that's fine but I don't think it's fair to pass lower judgement on them for being similar to things that have come before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.marroquin.106 Aaron Marroquin

    You know, I didn't like the first one because of the graphics. But this one, man, the graphics are so much better and call me Mr. Graphics Snob but I like this version a lot!

  • Adams Immersive

    Liking it a lot--my favorite behind-the-back runner. (Hope iCade support returns to TR though!

    I like Agent Dash, Subway Surfers and Pitfall as well... probably others I'm forgetting... and I want to get back to Blood Roofs. But what makes a game great is subjective (you can't expect agreement) and doesn't come down to a checklist: Most Different Obstacles, or whatever. I can't put my finger on what made TR great, but whatever it is, TR2 builds on it to remain my favorite. (Note: I don't care about Leaderboards. Even if cheating were impossible, what % of people are even going to make it into the top 5%? I'm thinking 5% at most! The fun of a game better come from other sources! Like being a fun game.)

    • Wikilix

      Blood Roofs: The most interesting endless runner on the AppStore

  • Mj1ggy

    Personally I like this game less than the first one, but I appreciate the review and reasoning behind it. Perhaps I simply need to spend more time with the game but I feel that the curving landscape and draw-in makes it much more difficult to see obstacles. The simplicity of the first game resulted in your performance being due to skill and reflexes whereas I found myself taking unnecessary deaths repeatedly in TR2 because I just didn't realize I was about to hit an obstacle. Again, this can be overcome but it's not like the first game where I picked it up and was hooked immediately.

  • Nate

    I agree that this is a reasonable upgrade of the original, but I think it should have lost at least another half-star for just how aggressively the game is tuned in favor of a more gouging version of IAP. Obviously buying gems is "unnecessary" to playing and enjoying the game, but being asked to use purchasable currency after every single run is annoying, and the $5 price for a coin doubler is downright ridiculous.

  • grits

    This game could've been so much more. With the Temple run brand they could've really done anything. But instead they chose the safe route which I don't agree with. The Game deserves two or three stars. Personally, I would reward innovation not lame incremental improvements.
    Guess they made the right choice though since now they're millionaires again. And do they really need yet another feature on the front page? There are so many other games that are more deserving.

  • grits

    Jared you make a good point. They made a good game better and so the score is reflective of that. However I never liked the first game at all so I guess that's where I'm coming from. Also I don't think they did anything that hasn't already been done by clones. You would think they could at least come up with one original idea since they are one of the originators of the genre.

    Ps
    I'm still getting an error a lot of times when I try to post of these stories.

  • matt66589

    I think it is a great improvement on graphics

  • XzombiesX

    Nobody can beat me at this;)

  • http://twitter.com/uso_bustest bus test

    love the game! really cool, play it with pleasure for hours!

  • http://www.oneclickroot.com/how-to-root-android/ Rooting Android

    I like playing this game, it is very addictive and full of surprises.
    The graphics of Temple Run 2 is better than the old Temple Run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.cochrane.31 Morgan Cochrane

    Hey I love playing temple run 2 I would just like to say that I think I could make it better. When u get the run faster thing I think if u trip then u should get another chance because you got the run faster thing thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.cochrane.31 Morgan Cochrane

    I don't know if I sent this once but it's not showing so I'm writing it again I think u could improve your temple run 2 because when u get faster and u hit something then the monster thing come chasing after u again I think u should get a second chance

  • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.cochrane.31 Morgan Cochrane

    Test

Temple Run 2 Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4.5