For an independent developer, putting a game together is a very long and labour-intensive exercise. If that game is your first full game as a studio, then that is an even more daunting process. That is the situation the Glasgow-based studio Mental Universe find themselves in as they try to finish off debut title Lucid Runner and unleash it on the world. So desperate were the team to have a finished game under their belts, however, that they challenged themselves to take a break from Lucid Runner to complete and release another game in just three weeks. This was how M0B1US was born.
M0B1US is an endless runner title – a quality that it shares with its future sibling Lucid Runner. Rather than be story based and feature a series of fantastical Sci-Fi levels, as their main project will do, M0B1US sets up its stall as a much simpler offering. Indeed there aren’t multiple levels in the game – there aren’t even multiple screens. This is a game that takes place entirely on one screen. Instead of running forever along a horizon, your character runs along the base of your screen, up the right hand side and across the top (now upside-down of course), before descending down the left side and completing a circuit of the screen. This is certainly a unique take on the endless runner, and places more emphasis on concentration than variety.
The object of the game is simple: control your runner to travel as far a distance as possible without hitting a single obstacle. This includes jumping when you reach a corner of the screen, in order to reach the next side, sliding to duck under low ceilings and jumping over boxes. One hit and your game is over, with your score measured simply by how many “Metres” that you traversed. This is also tracked via Game Center, so you can try to beat scores set by your friends. Sounds simple, right? Things are made more tricky by the fact that you can only see the obstacles that surround the character sprite, as there is a spotlight of sorts that follows him and illuminates only nearby objects.
This means that your reflexes for pulling off jumps and slides needs to be pretty quick, as there is no room for error and hardly any time to react. As such, M0B1US is a twitch game that becomes easily frustrating, but also strangely addictive. There is little on offer here to really draw in a gamer – the graphics are very simple, the soundtrack consists of a few tracks of typical retro sci-fi video game music repeating ad infinitum, and the gameplay is as shallow as you can get. This is the flappy bird of endless-runner games, being pretty unimpressive and irritating – as well as incredibly repetitive – but making you want to go back and beat your top score, for some unexplained reason.
VERDICT: M0B1US feels like it was thrown together in a short space of time, and its gameplay is twitch-based and unforgiving – this isn’t the sort of game that will keep you occupied for hours, but rather it thrives on the old-school idea of high scores and besting your previous total. You will get irritated by the precise timing needed to avoid obstacles, as well as the repetitive music and gameplay, but there remains a strange satisfaction when you do. This isn’t a game crafted with love and attention, that will engage gamers, but M0B1US at least attempts to take the genre somewhere slightly different, even if it doesn’t always excel at doing it.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher. Note: Alex Wozniak (employee of Mental Universe) previously worked for God is a Geek. We don’t believe that influences our review, but we wanted to disclose it anyway.