Game Reviews

Totem Runner

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| Totem Runner
Totem Runner
| Totem Runner

Do you remember that crazy Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto? The one with the Mayan in a loin cloth running around in the jungles of Central America?

The makers of Totem Run sure do, and they decided to remove the religious subtext of the film and replace it with level after level of running, jumping, and spiritual transcendence.

The result is Totem Runner, an action-filled endless-runner that sees your Mayan-on-a-mission dashing through beautifully rendered artistic environments as he tries to restore balance to world of nature while occasionally turning into a bird, boar, and flying electric dragon monster.

Run, forest

Totem Runner plays like a traditional endless-runner. When a level starts, your character charges off toward the right side of your screen and you can do nothing to slow, stop, or alter his course.

What you do have control over is a 'plant' button that brings plants, flowers, and shrubs into existence ex nihilo. The more plants that you, err, plant, the higher the score you'll earn for a level, so it's in your best interests to keep your finger firmly rooted on that virtual button.

Unlike in many other endless-runners, you can't jump in Totem Runner, yet the game has no problem confronting you with bottomless pits and ravines full of spikes and brambles.

Thankfully, it presents an interesting solution to this seemingly insurmountable problem.

Our totems, ourselves

After completing the early parts of the game, you'll unlock three totem animals that you can transform into: a bird, a boar, and a sort of electric dragon-y thing.

The bird allows you to fly, the boar will charge through enemies and walls of vines, and the electric dragon will power you through a level without paying heed to whatever obstacles or enemies lie before you.

The boar and bird are at-will transformations, and you will need to toggle between those two and your human form several times throughout a level to progress through challenges and earn as many points as possible.

By contrast, the electric dragon is sort of power-up item that requires you to collect 50 gems to use. It's a great way to literally tear through challenging portions of a level, but you won't be able to plant seeds and thus earn points.

Switching between the totems rapidly becomes the focus of the game, as you'll need to know when to transform into a bird (when you see a gap), when to transform into a boar (when you want to smash things), and when to transform into a dragon (when you're frustrated).

This management mechanic starts off simple enough in early levels, allowing you to soak up the gorgeous artwork of the levels, but after a few stages you'll be transforming from bird to boar in mid-air long enough to duck under an enemy's arrow and then transforming back into a human to earn more points.

Never a boar

There's really not much to say against Totem Runner. The music is a touch repetitious and the tilt controls for the bird are a bit sub-par, but outside of those missteps it looks and plays like an exceptional endless-runner with an added, and quite fun, twist.

The only thing really holding Totem Runner back is its lack of variety and challenge in terms of levels themselves. A pure endless mode would be a welcome addition to the game in a future update.

If you're in the market for a visually pleasing endless-runner with novel gameplay, it's difficult to think of a better game for your money than Totem Runner.

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Totem Runner

A gorgeous endless-runner that mixes challenging gameplay with sumptuous visuals
Matthew Diener
Matthew Diener
Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.