Let’s face it: endless runners are a dime-a-dozen these days. As such, it’s always tough for games that, at least superficially, look and play similarly to the overcrowded genre. Crescent Moon Games’ Greedy Dwarf ($0.99), with its minecart-based platforming gameplay, shares a lot with its endless cousins. However, a good difficulty curve, responsive controls, and decent amount of variety lets Greedy Dwarf hold its own, leading to a game worth checking out.
At first glance, Greedy Dwarf looks (and plays) like an endless runner. Players control a minecart-riding dwarf as he searches for gold through a perilous labyrinth of lava-filled caves. The minecart is on auto-run, meaning players only have the option of controlling its direction and jumping. Players are also rated on how well they do on their run. However, this is where the game’s similarities with endless runners end.
For starters, Greedy Dwarf is mission based, with over 30 levels to tackle. Rather than a traditional 3-star system that’s typically found in such games, Greedy Dwarf rates players in two different criteria: gold and rockets. Each mission has a set amount of gold and rockets (which temporarily increase minecart speed), with players earning higher ratings (and scores) with the more of each they collect.
It’s an interesting system because collecting all the gold in a level is in some ways diametrically opposed to collecting all the rockets, which increase the speed and the likelihood of you missing gold. However, to truly master a level, you’ll have to do both in a single run, raising the challenge. Thankfully Greedy Dwarf also has pretty responsive controls. Simply tap-and-drag to steer, and tap with a second finger to jump. The game also has a secondary scheme with virtual buttons, but I found it paled in comparison to the default, which is pretty intuitive and essential to pulling off some of the crazier moves.
Speaking of challenges, I was impressed with how much platforming variety exists in Greedy Dwarf despite the relatively simple premise. In addition to the collectibles listed above, players will encounter lava pits (which need to be jumped over), long-jump power-ups, and special tiles that’ll make your minecart reverse gravity, mirroring the controls. There are even some interesting 2D sections that focus less on controls and more on simple platforming. In addition, Greedy Dwarf really doesn’t obey the laws of gravity to begin with, meaning players will have to think outside the box in order to collect all the available items.
It takes a little getting used to, but once you understand the system, Greedy Dwarf becomes a fun and challenging platformer. The game’s control scheme and level design not only offer some challenge but also leave a satisfying feeling when you manage to fully complete a mission. I found it really enjoyable mapping out levels in my head and planning all the crazy moves I’d need to execute in order to collect everything. Most importantly, Greedy Dwarf‘s gradual difficulty curve meant that I never felt frustrated and it actually encouraged me to replay levels to try and master them.
One of my few complaints with Greedy Dwarf is the fact that there’s only 32 missions. True, it’ll take some time to fully complete each mission but the overall content is still light and hurts replayability. In addition, the game’s emphasis on lava-filled caves means that environments all start to blend together and feel bland. It’s obvious that Greedy Dwarf has a theme that it’s trying to adhere to, but a change of scenery would go a long way towards adding some variety.
Still those complains are hardly deal-breakers. As a platform runner, Greedy Dwarf hits all the right marks to offer a challenging experience with the responsive controls necessary to battle and overcome the environments. While the content is a bit light, I still whole-heartedly recommend Greedy Dwarf for any fans of fast-paced, reflex-oriented platformers.