It takes a lot to pique my interest in an infinite runner nowadays, but darn it all if smuttlewerk didn’t come along with one starring Nosferatu, my all-time favorite vampire! For better or worse the German developer – better known for deep strategy games than casual offerings – gave him a bit of a makeover in Nosferatu: Run From the Sun (Out Now, $0.99). Now he’s a cute lil’ thing, forever bunny-hopping forward in his bid to keep himself in a time zone where the sun don’t shine yet.
Considering what smuttlewerk brought to Turn-Based Strategy with their previous iOS title, I also went into Nosferatu curious whether they might have found some way of rejuvenating endless runners. No such luck; this one is completely geared toward the diehard running fan who hasn’t tired of the genre yet.
That’s not to say Nosferatu is dead on arrival by any means, especially at one dollar. The game trades off between familiar tap-driven running segments and short spurts of flight where a vertical slide control steers Nosferatu clear of UFOs if all goes well. Back on the ground, the little hopper may wantonly strike down (ahem, “befriend”) pedestrians with no repercussions. In fact, there are achievements for hitting certain combinations of cartoon civilians.
The greatest thing Nosferatu has going for it is a well balanced upgrade system. Sooner or later the player will miss a jump and watch Nosferatu get fried by Mr. Sun, but any coins gained during the attempt are added to a running total the player can cash in at the main menu. Most upgrades aren’t omnipresent; triple jumps, for example, are collected and consumed on-the-fly, the player’s upgrade level just determining what the collection cap is. The majority of upgrades similarly interact with power-ups, so even a fully decked-out player has to put in some work up front before advantages kick in. This gives the fun factor a longer lease on life than you’d find in your average Canabalt knockoff.
Never has the danger of night been rendered so cutely — for better or worse, this rendition of Nosferatu blends in perfectly with the pastel-colored, hand-drawn iOS standard. The game’s parallax-scrolling backgrounds certainly keep things visually interesting, and the in-game track is a masterful organ/electronica mix that’s downright addictive.
iFanzine Verdict: A solid title if you’re in the mood for another infinite runner and love adorable protagonists. Thanks to an upgrade system that keeps giving the player something new to work up to, the genre fan will squeeze a little more fun out of this one than your average runner.