Another day, another cutesy “endless runner” type title hits the App Store. But wait, come back, this one’s actually really quite good! The iOS debut of two Crytek alumni and their newly formed indie studio Claybox Interactive, Fin Friends (Out Now, $0.99) puts the player in control of Ruby, a plucky lil’ clown fish who sets out on a danger-fraught mission to rescue her kidnapped buddies from the clutches of the dastardly Blowfish Gang.
The aim of the game is simple: swim through as many levels as possible, springing your friends from the bad guys’ nets as you go. Of course, that’s easier said than done because this underwater world is teeming with not only prickly pufferfish that must be avoided, but also more ferocious boss enemies like an acid-spewing squid, and an electric eel who attack without mercy!
Rescued fish follow you, forming a protective barrier around Ruby, while there are also numerous power-ups to be found scattered around each level. Aside from the swim-as-far-as-you-can side of things, there are a bunch of objectives to be completed; for instance, guiding a set number of fish to safety, or ripping open so many nets in a certain stage. Each time you cross three of these objectives off your list, you earn a new type of “Fin-Friend”, which in turn boosts your score. Throughout, the action is fairly fast-paced and enemies plentiful, so thankfully Fin Friends sports incredibly user-friendly “one-touch” controls. You simply tap the screen to swim upwards and release your finger to descend.
Gameplay-wise, Fin Friends doesn’t really deliver much we haven’t seen before from this genre, but its impressive production values and beautiful claymation-esque art style do help set it apart from its peers. Seriously, this is one of the most visually interesting iOS games I’ve played in quite a while — from the lush underwater environments to the character’s hilarious facial expressions, everything looks absolutely great and lets you know that a lot of care and thought went into crafting the game.
Judged on it’s own merits, Fin Friends is a pretty fantastic little game, however it does lack some of the extra “bells and whistles” we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in these kind of iOS side-scrollers — y’know, stuff like unlockables, character upgrades, extra game modes to work towards, etc — which leaves it feeling a bit bare-bones. So here’s hoping Claybox add more content come update time.
iFanzine Verdict: Sumptuously designed, easy to play, and bursting with personality, Fin Friends is a thoroughly enjoyable infinite side-scroller, even if it isn’t particularly innovative or groundbreaking. In order to really make a splash in such a fiercely competitive genre, Claybox may want to consider adding more content to the game in future updates.