It turns out that the world of Nitrome might not be as side-on as we all imagined. At least it isn't in Sprint RPG, the latest game to come from the super busy pub and dev. This one is a first person dungeon crawler, albeit a twisted and arcade-ified first person dungeon crawler.

You're not just dealing with spooky skeletons and annoying three-eyed bats here though - time is also of the essence. After all, this is a game called Sprint RPG - you didn't think you were just going to be meandering along seeing the sights did you?

Sprint mobile

The screen here is essentially split into two parts. Along the top you've got the corridor you're stomping around, and along the bottom you've got the buttons you need to perform that stomping. So far, so simple - but mistakes here are punished harshly.

You'll soon realise that enemies have attack patterns you need to use against them - some require one tap of the sword button, some two - and the deeper you get into the labyrinth, the more complex those combinations of button presses are going to be.

Some enemies need four or more taps to get rid of, others come in different forms to confuse you - an empty spider's web takes one hit, an occupied one takes three, and you're not going to know what you're attacking until you've made that first strike.

Sprint RPG iOS screenshot - Attacking a spider with a fairy wand

Every mistake you make here is penalised - you'll lose a chunk of the time bar along the top of the screen when you mess up. We're talking about tapping to move in the wrong direction, or attacking when there isn't anything in front of you - any erroneous tap takes a chunk from the time bar. Once that bar has run out, you're out of time and it's game over unless you watch a video or spend some of your hard-earned coins.

You don't unlock a level unless you get to the door at the end of it, so dying in the middle of a level you haven't finished yet will see you dropped back at the start of the previous one the next time you begin. It's a simple system, but it means every time you get to the end of a challenge you're going to do a little fist pump.

Sprint RPG is a game of muscle memory, of reaction times, and of pushing your luck. It captures the thrill of the dungeon crawl without any of the weight, and that makes it perfect for quick-dip gaming moments on the go.

Leg it

This is a game that shows Nitrome's deconstructional nature works as well in other genres as it does in platformers and shooters. Throw in a simple but gorgeous retro art-style, that you can change by unlocking special glasses, and you're left with a fine example of how to do a simple but never small mobile game.

Sprint RPG is a stylish and compulsive wander through the dungeons of gaming past, and it does it with all the confidence of a game that understands the present too. Basically, it's really really good and you should go and play it.

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