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‘The End App’ Hands-On Impressions

It feels like behind-the-back endless runners are as popular on the App Store as cover-based shooters are on consoles. I’m probably inflating how widespread these two genres are on their respective platforms, but you get my point: there are a lot of highly derivative Temple Run games on the App Store. As these games continue to pile on top of each other, points of iteration become increasingly more important to sales and my sanity. Goroid Games’ The End App doesn’t reinvent the genre by any means, but it’s doing enough thematically to keep my interest.

Just so we’re on the same page, The End App is a behind-the-back endless runner, and it shares a boatload of mechanics that Temple Run established as the norm — its currency and IAP system, title and swipe controls, and its style of play are all present in The End App. Where you see some spots of actual differentiation are in its urban hazards, light-hearted tone, striking look, and its slightly tweaked damage model.

So, at some point in the near future, the world basically dies and duct tape becomes a thing you use to buy other things. That’s the premise of The End App, a game where you play as a runner looking to score duct tape in an urban ruin.

Though grim-sounding, the world is surprisingly colorful — in a Brink sort of way. There’s a lot of crisp blues, greens, and other colors-that-aren’t-brown. Plus, foliage still exists and sky isn’t some sort of leaky, inky mess. These are awesome touches that give The End App some life, not to mention oomph. The stuff you’ll be avoiding kinda does the same: the lava pits, cracked cement, jackknifed trucks and broken cars, and the ramps are different, which make it feel fresher than most games in the genre. And while it’s mildly disappointing that the tone of the game doesn’t double-down on the ridiculousness of the game’s setup, this is, overall, as cheery as you’d think it would be.

It’s totally possible to bump into some of these hazards and not die, by the way, and that’s a cool point of design. If you bang into a car while tilting to pick up a snaking line of duct tape, for example, your screen turns a shade of crimson for a few seconds. In a single run, you’re allowed five or six of these before you’re yanked out.

We’ve got some footage of the game in action below. It plays as sharply as it looks. Swipe feels good, tilt is definitely, and whatever voodoo is behind the random mapping does a pretty good job at sculpting fairly fun experiences over and over again.

Anyway, in an ideal world, a new game like The End App would offer more on the mechanical side to make it feel truly special. But while it doesn’t necessarily iterate, it’s an endless runner that offers a new, and thematically different, world to explore.  You’ll probably want to give this a shot.

The End App will be available July 5 on iPad and iPhone.