Review: Ragdoll Run
Ragdoll Run is an 'infinite running' game, where the challenge is to avoid dying for as long as possible. There are many games like this over all the mobile platforms, and while some of them stay with the classical ideal of having just a single control to act as the 'jump' button, Ragdoll Run expands the options and controls available to the player - but the developers have forgotten to make an engaging and rewarding game.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
As the running portion of the game starts, you'll find yourself in a 3D world that's almost, but not quite, an isometric view. Running along a series of cubes strung together, you can jump up (with either a tap on the screen or a swipe upwards, depending on the choice of control method). You can also swipe on the screen towards the left or the right, which will rotate the blocks under your feet by ninety degrees. To put it another way, you'll be running along one of the sides (from the initial perspective).
Why you would want to do this becomes clear once you run just a little way into the game. While you can jump over all the obstacles in your way, there are coins and power-ups to pick up along the way. And they'll be on every one of the four sides. So you'll need to be spinning around the run both to avoid the obstacles that are too high to jump over, while trying to get into the right position to grab as many goodies as possible.
Your Ragdoll will run faster and faster as you continue to play through a game, and when you couple that with the relatively short draw distance used to show the blocks in front of you, Ragdoll Run becomes less of a thinking game where you need to plan the best route through the 3D space, and becomes more of a twitchy reaction game because everything is starting to move too fast.
While the latter idea is the basis for many infinite games, Ragdoll Run doesn't quite get the balance just right. As the game starts, you are in the 'slow' mode which gives you time to think, but the rubicon between 'slow' and 'fast' happens relatively quickly, and once it does there's fractionally too little time for me to react.
I'll quite happily stand up and say that my reaction time is not what it once was, and that for others it will take longer to get to the point of panic in this title, but my point is this. Ragdoll Run should be accommodating a wide range of game players as the game speeds up. Unfortunately it feels like the developers want to get to the twitchy nature of a random game as quickly as possible, leaving the casual gamer no time to get comfortable or familiar enough with the the game. Without that, the addictive potential isn't found, and Ragdoll Run becomes a very good graphical demo, but misses being a really good game.
There is one concession to the frantic gameplay, and that's in the setting of the skill level. With three choices as you start the game, you can go for easy (rather slow), normal (momentarily too slow) or hard (starts fast, gets worse). These do help define the start point but again the game takes very little time to build back up to the 'too fast' speed.
Perhaps I could live with these speed issues if the control system was accurate, but I found while playing through the game (on the Nokia Lumia 820) that many of my deaths were as a result of the game not picking up on my control input. Be it a tap or swipe to jump, or a swipe to the side, many were simply not picked up, meaning I would crash into vertical blocks, miss a jump over a gap, or fail to pick up a token in the sky.
There's also a distinct stutter when you swipe to the side and blocks rotate around. If you were hoping to build up a rhythm in a game where every swipe to rotate will put your timing off balance because the blocks are no longer flowing under you, then your hopes are going to be dashed. It means that any hope I have of looking ahead and thinking "I jump in three" is actually "swipe, try and guess when you are starting to move again, and then jump in one, two, or three".
Ragdoll Run looks fantastic, but it hides a game that is not well balanced. The speed is never quite right, the learning curve is rather jagged, and for all the cute graphics, it takes too long to redraw the level when you make a move. There is a challenging game in here, and younger reactions might find something here, but it's not for me. Your mileage may vary, so do look at the trial, but be ready for disappointment.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at