Like a lot of iOS gamers out there, I now greet any mention of a ‘free to play’ model or that notoriously capricious nonword ‘freemium‘ with the utmost suspicion and caution; doubly so when they pertain to the sequel of a game I heartily enjoyed. I am, of course, talking about Dedalord Games’ Falling Fred and its newly released follow-up Running Fred (out now, Free), which has opted to go the free-but-loaded-with-tons-of-IAPs route.

I’m sure you’re probably dying to know this, so I’ll put you out of your misery: yes folks, Fred’s latest outing is, for the best part, eminently playable — even if you decide you’d prefer not to drop any real-world money on virtual currency and IAPs. It’s a good job too because anyone who was a fan of the first game is going to absolutely adore this follow-up!

Running Fred is much larger in scope than its predecessor and ditches that game’s arcadey ‘how far can you fall’ mechanic in favor of a fully 3D, level-based auto running/platforming schtick. Think an infinitely more psychotic rendition of Temple Run and you’re more or less on the right track.

Naturally, the aim of the game is simply to make it from each stage’s start point to its exit in one piece. However, a formidable array of whirring blades, lava pits, gaping chasms, beds of spikes, and miscellaneous other death-traps stand between you and success. As our hero dashes headlong through crazy, cavernous levels with the grim reaper himself hot on his heels, your job is to duck and weave around deadly obstacles and collect as many silver and gold coins as possible. Ultra-responsive tilt controls handle movement, while tapping the screen allows you to pull off jumps and double-jumps. Fred also has a bunch of neat acrobatic moves like wall jumps and something called a ‘Chicken-flap’ at his disposal, which you either unlock as you progress or, if you so choose, stump up hard cash for.

Thankfully, any unlockables that impact directly on gameplay — new abilities, extra lives and so forth — are easily obtainable with a little hard work, so you won’t ever feel as if you’re being forced into making an IAP. That said, the in-game store is also chock-a-block with loads of desirable goodies such as new outfits for Fred and, unless you’re willing to sink hours and hours into the game, come at a pretty hefty price. Still, while dressing Fred up in Super Mario-style duds or as a Spartan warrior is way cool, it’s not integral to completing the main game.

In addition to the main ‘Adventure Mode’, there’s also a super-addictive ‘Survival Mode’ and a series of bonus challenges to enjoy. All in all, taking into account that it’s free, this is a pretty unmissable package. I’m actually really excited to see where the imaginative folks at Dedalord take Fred next, as there’s most definitely plenty of life left in this franchise. A more fully-fledged 3D platformer is the most obvious follow-up, but something like a SAW-inspired puzzler, a kart-racer (Racing Fred, anyone?), or a WarioWare-esque collection of sick ‘n’ twisted mini-games could also work really well.

iFanzine Verdict: Everything a sequel should be and more! Running Fred takes Dedalord’s ‘Fred’ franchise in a bold and brilliant new direction while retaining the lashings of cutesified ultra-violence and sick sense of humor that made the original a stand-out game. A must-have freebie.