Another fall season, another dystopian teen movie (and another accompanying mobile game). This year, the hot ticket is The Maze Runner, a movie based on a book of the same name by James Dashner.
The Maze Runner is actually the first book in a series of three, but the movie adaptation - and the mobile game accompanying it - revolves around the first book. And boy oh boy, does the game ever take the "runner" part of its title seriously.
Temple Maze Runner
The Maze Runner game is a 3D runner that taps the same vein as Temple Run. Admittedly, it's been a little while since a blockbuster movie phoned in its game production by simply "borrowing" from Temple Run or Jetpack Joyride. That doesn't mean we're glad to be reunited with the hoary old formula, though.
To be perfectly fair, it's not hard to understand why PikPok latched onto the runner genre for The Maze Runner.
The book and movie revolve around a group of teens that attempt to map out the vast maze surrounding the meadow they live in by, well, running through it. They have no choice but to run, since the maze is constantly patrolled by "grievers" - ugly, slithering, pointy monsters quivering with potent poison.
But nothing about The Maze Runner game is as interesting as that background story, or its grievers. The game's mechanics are as grey and moss-covered as the walls of its maze.
Run like hell
Maze runs occur in sessions. Players start off in the glade at the centre of the maze, dart into the labyrinth, and must find their way back to the glade before time runs out.
Making an efficient run means dodging pits, traps, and debris. This is done by swiping left, right, up, or down as necessary. Taping the screen rapidly causes your runner to sprint. Pacing yourself is key.
If you don't make it back before time runs out, the door to the glade closes and your runner presumably spends an active night with the grievers.
Succeeding in The Maze Runner also requires the player to pick up pieces of stone tablets that offer clues to the nature of the maze.
Finding and collecting these pieces are the most interesting thing about the game, since they're usually a bit out-of-the-way. Grabbing them requires quick reflexes. Luckily, there's nothing wrong with The Maze Runner's controls. You can even change direction mid-jump.
Walk it off
The Maze Runner isn't a horrible game; it's just an average running title that brings very little of anything that's new or exciting.
It's also a painfully obvious cash grab. The game supplies a random, nameless runner for you to use, but if you want to use any of the characters from the movie / book, prepare to cough up £2.49.
And that doesn't include the usual reams of hard currency (gems) necessary to keep on running if you screw up.
Don't worry about missing the opportunity to save your runner.The "Continue?" screen lingers for ages every time you fall down a pit or faceplant.
But hey, every time you have a successful run, you're offered a discount on select goods! What kid doesn't want to save money on their next Zipcar rental or hotel reservation?The Maze Runner is predictable, unexciting, and choked with ads. Spare it a glance if you're curious about the world it presents, but don't be afraid to run in the opposite direction.