Endless runners are an interesting genre. Titles like Temple Run and Flappy Bird made the score-challenging gamplay famous, but other developers have tried to add depth with stories and compelling atmosphere: Infinity Runner tries, but unfortunately falls short of the finish line by adding shallow story and atmosphere. Toss in middling gameplay meant to cater to the VR crowd, and you’ve got a game that could have been something good, but ends up just being lackluster.
Basically everything you need to know about the game comes from the title: “Infinity” is the name of the gigantic spaceship you’ve been trapped on that you’re escaping. And, in case you couldn’t gather already, you’re going to be running to get away. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot to mention that you’re a werewolf. And that a mysterious woman breaks you out of stasis and guides you through a remote uplink to each destination. It’s supposed to be a story fraught with mystery and intrigue, delivered by a sarcastic, witty female protagonist, but unfortunately there are just so many holes in the story and dialog that neither catch interest. The enemies, which you slaughter during your runs in a series of quick-time events, are nameless, generic grunts with no real motivation to hold you hostage (or even to be on this giant ship). Other events take place to provide plot twists, but they fall flat since there’s nothing in the plot to stay attached to. By the time you’ve progressed through a couple levels in story mode, cutscenes and exposition feel like wasted time. Like the game’s other attempts to stand out, the story causes more problems than anything else.
The werewolf mode causes similar issues. As a werewolf you become invincible to most damaging forces. Being a werewolf should be exciting, powerful, but in werewolf mode you automatically make all your turns, collect all items, kill all enemies, and barrel through most obstacles…meaning the game basically runs on auto-pilot. With the exception of one werewolf-specific jumping obstacle, I pretty much used werewolf time to check my texts. Even just making me manually navigate the turns of the ship could have kept me engaged, or shortening the amount of time spent in werewolf mode after getting the pickup to trigger it.
As a traditional endless runner, Infinity Runner doesn’t do much to rival Temple Run or other games already available. The bland, dark color sets and generic spaceship atmosphere don’t do much to make the game feel like it has a style of its own. There are various play styles included in the arcade mode including time attack, score attack, and an infinite run mode, each of which factors into achievement-like challenges you can unlock if you’re devoted to the game. Expect it to feel like a long process, though; Infinity Runner’s difficulty doesn’t scale as quickly as other games though, so you’re more likely to grow bored and let the game run itself into walls than actually suffer defeat. This might have something to do with its design for the Oculus Rift; I’ve never used the headset before, but I can imagine that turning too fast too frequently could be hard on the neck. Either way, the game’s slow motion detracts from the fun.
Infinity Runner brings good ideas to the table, but for the most part it fumbles the ball on them. It’s hard to even recommend the game to players looking new Oculus Rift experiences; most reviews and articles I’ve read talk about the discomfort and nausea the game causes by jerking the camera around without player input. If you’re addicted to the endless runner genre and plan on playing with a keyboard and mouse (I even found playing with a controller frustrating), Infinity Runner may be worth a shot; the team at Wales Interactive is still patching the game and addressing player concerns. Overall though, this wolf’s got a long way to run to catch up with the rest of the pack.
Final Score: 2.5 out of 5