Run Like Hell! review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Mass Creation
Developer: Mass Creation
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

I’ll give Run Like Hell! credit where credit is due: as endless runners go, it could be a lot worse. The last endless runner that came to the Vita, Z-Run, was abysmally bad, so you don’t have to look far to see an example of the genre on this device at its absolute nadir. Run Like Hell! isn’t great, or even good, but it’s never quite that bad.

In large part, this is because the controls are significantly simpler. There’s no swiping around, hoping the game registers what you want it to do. There’s just a couple of buttons — jump, slide and adrenaline — and their usage remains the same throughout the game. There’s the odd new environment to learn, but even then, you’re just applying what you already know to slightly different contexts. The whole point of endless running is simplicity, and, thankfully, Run Like Hell! realizes that.

run like hell

Admittedly, that also comes with a few downsides. The game is pretty short — not counting the multiplayer mode, which I’ll admit I haven’t tried — but it’s still kind of repetitive. Because it goes so hard on simplicity, it doesn’t take long before it feels like you’re doing the same level over and over again. After you’ve been chased through one jungle by African cannibals, you’ve been chased through all the jungles —

Wait, what’s that? African cannibals? Yeah, about that: in addition to being a middling endless runner, Run Like Hell! is also crazy racist. Like, we’re not talking about one or two pieces of questionable imagery, or something incidental to the plot; this whole game is built around a conceit that would’ve been questionable sixty or seventy years ago. You can debate all you want about whether there are/were African tribes that put bones through their noses, the fact is, in this day and age, there’s only so many ways you can interpret a game about loincloth-clad black people running after a white man, especially when they’re literally chucking spears at him. Oh, and when you’re caught they drag you off hanging from a stick with some kind of indeterminate fruit stuffed in your mouth. About the only thing missing from the whole racist tableau is natives dancing around a boiling cauldron, though for all I know that may have been in a cutscene I skipped over.

run like hell 2

Having said all that, I recognize that there are plenty of people for whom “treatment of race” isn’t really a deciding factor on whether to get a game. For those people…if you’re desperate for something to tide you over until that Little Big Planet-themed runner, and for some reason you don’t have access to a smartphone, this will do the job, I guess. However, if you do consider the social implications of games, then it practically goes without saying that Run Like Hell! is a game that will probably offend you to your very core, and you’ll want to stay far, far away. But take heart: all that you’re missing out on is a thoroughly mediocre endless runner.

Grade: C-