Like the backyard chases of our childhoods that always ended with scraped knees and grass stains, Cops & Robbers is a treat. Clever touch-enabled platforming and a great sense of style make for a game that's both original and totally fun.
Cops & Robbers mashes basic elements of parkour together with the haste of a foot race. Roommates Rooftop and Tic Tac have no choice but to exercise some fancy footwork as they outrun the cops, stolen diamonds and cash in hand.
Only by escaping the police with the nabbed jewels can they pay off their mobster superintendent and avoid getting evicted from their apartment. High contrast lighting and solid colours, angled shots, and muted musical tones provide a neo-noir appeal that follows the crime spree nicely.
As either Rooftop or Tic Tac, you navigate each of the game's nine escape routes by tapping the screen to jump over obstacles, swing from poles, and occasionally roll through tight spaces. Tips of your handset enable you to move left and right; conversely, you can opt for touch controls that have you tapping the edges of the screen to move.
Since you're automatically propelled forward through each stage, you're free to focus on manoeuvring past a host of zany obstacles and straightforward platform challenges. Rolling pin-equipped grannies and guards with flashlights will bust you on sight, while piles of garbage and thick pipes impede your progress.
Timing is essential: jump too early or move in the wrong direction and you'll stumble, losing ground to the cops. A view of the city's skyline along the bottom of the screen lets you know how close the cops are tailing you.
Perspective shifts present new challenges, such as side-scrolling runs where you don't need to bother with directional movement, simply tapping the screen to vault over objects and swing from pole-to-pole.
Wall jumping sequences involve angling your jumps to avoid crumbling surfaces and broken pipes that leak flaming gases. These not only add variety, but they often steal the spotlight with some of the funnest gameplay Cops & Robbers has to offer.
Although the game features fewer than a dozen levels, there's a surprising amount of replay value. Completing each stage as Rooftop or Tic Tac unlocks an alternative Cop mode, where you take the position of an officer chasing down the thieving duo.
Branching paths, cash collectibles, and hidden diamonds all work to extend play beyond your initial run as well. All that's missing is multiplayer: running after a friend in a competitive chase seems like a natural fit.
More than anything, Cops & Robbers draws you back because it's a blast to play. Simple controls make it accessible, though it packs enough of a challenge with its host of collectibles and branching pathways to steal away time from the most seasoned gamer.