Every so often you just need to go for a run. Sometimes it’s to burn off a few pounds while the weather’s still warm out in preparation for the Christmas season, other times it's because you’re running late for your kid’s dance rehearsal. If you’re like me though usually you just want to see how far you can get before you fall down.
For the protagonist of Cube Samurai: RUN! it’s because they’re being attacked by an army of cone-headed soldiers who (as far as I can tell) don’t quite have the samurai's best interests at heart. Like me, Cube Samurai also wants to not fall down.
Cube Samurai: RUN! is an infinite runner available on Steam, Apple and Android devices developed by Red Meat Games. You are Cube Samurai (who is exactly what they sound like) darting through a futuristic city, collecting coins to purchase upgrades and boosts that allow you to more efficiently dart through a futuristic city and into some of its other locales such as the city’s...rainforest district? I don't know. Future cities are weird.
Much like other infinite runners you have a few different methods of moving through obstacles in your path: A double-jump, a ground-pound and a trusty melee attack which you can upgrade to destroy oncoming walls and deflect bullets, which saved my butt many times. The upgrade system is standard as far as buying upgrades go - you can purchase ones that make coins worth more or power-ups last longer, but the ones that change the game’s mechanics allow you to deflect bullets and change up the pace and difficulty of the game as a whole. Not only can you purchase upgrades but also cosmetic items which add a nice amount of flavour to the game and allows for synergy bonuses such as extra coins if you collect entire sets of skins.
For those of you wondering, my Samurai’s weapon of choice is a cardboard tube.
The obstacles you encounter from moment-to-moment are fairly standard fare: nasty minions who fire bullets at you, spike pits and hot red walls to name a few. It’s nothing not seen before in the average runner - until you hit a boss fight.
Boss fights are fairly simple encounters that seem to come when you’re on a particularly long run. A ship might come into view and start unloading cargo into your path or a manned turret may fall down and spray a few volleys in your direction. It changes up the pace of the game quite a bit and breaks up the monotony of a run that might be going on for a bit too long. Aside from this, the obstacles you encounter really don’t deviate too far from the infinite runner norm.
The art is simplistic but stylish low-poly models and stylish effects giving the game a very unique look. The music is very medieval Japan inspired, which only adds to the Samurai flavour the game already has.
I did find a lot of Cube Samurai: RUN!’s charm actually comes from the little details that went into it though. Whenever you land your Samurai holds his weapon a different way, when you kill an opponent (or even die yourself) you fling dramatically into ragdoll mode, the scenery in the background scrolls lazily by as you run, the cosmetic descriptions are full of references and jokes. It all gives the impression the devs took quite a bit to give the game a life of its own and goes a long way in making the experience.
While it is certainly fun for a while, it suffers from the same problem other mobile games on Steam do: Cube Samurai: RUN!’s price tag of $5:49 feels a little steep for the amount of time you might ultimately get from it, so I’d recommend installing the mobile version and giving it a go on the commute to work or on the toilet and see if it’s the sort of experience you’d enjoy on the PC. This aside, it certainly does seems like it would make for an equally fun mobile experience, but it doesn’t do anything exceptionally different than what most people have seen in an infinite runner before.
Thanks to Red Meat Games and Raphael Tetreault for supplying the review copy of Cube Samurai: RUN!