Games of the Infinite Runner genre are somewhat interesting to me. They manage to captivate the player’s interest for extended periods of time with little to no end goals, no story and extremely simplistic controls. The Golden Arrow by Jenna Hoffstein, of one-woman indie studio Monster & Glitch breaks the mould a little. Sure, it has the same basic premise as the likes of Canabalt – run as far as possible – but where The Golden Arrow stands out from the crowd is in its interesting narrative.
Players control the “Monster” and engage in the usual “avoid obstacles and collect speed boost” style gameplay that is to be expected of Infinite Runners. At certain distance intervals scrolls are unlocked. Each scroll tells the story of the Princess that is hunting the Monster. As the story progresses you learn her motivations for doing so and the effect her quest has had on her family. The tale the scrolls weave is well-written and an interesting aside from the main game. There are thirty scrolls to unlock in total, providing plenty of motivation to continue playing.
The Golden Arrow features Game Center integration to allow players to jostle for the top spot when the main story has been told – at the time of publication this writer is proudly sitting at 5th worldwide!
The whimsical graphics look wonderful on Retina screen devices. The simplistic 8-bit sprites of the Princess and Monster are accented by the creepy forest background. A little variety in backgrounds would have been appreciated but doesn’t detract from the experience.
A mix of chiptune, vocal harmonies and organ music play throughout the game. The main theme is wonderfully jumpy and upbeat. The longer you run the better it gets!
A few small issues were encountered when playing The Golden Arrow on an iPod Touch 4G. Crashes on the latest iOS firmware were not uncommon. Frame-rate dips were also an occasional issue. Monster & Glitch are aware of these problems and are attempting to solve them.
For the rock-bottom price of 69p The Golden Arrow is a great choice for those seeking some bus stop entertainment. While comparisons to other games in the genre are unavoidable, The Golden Arrow’s story-telling allow it to stand firmly in a league of its own.