The iTunes App Store is a fascinating microcosm that replicates the gaming world on a smaller, faster scale. Any original game that captures the public’s attention (and wallets) will quickly be followed by a series of mutated clones that promise all of the appeal of the progenitor title but with an added twist. Take for example Temple Run, the runaway hit (sorry) that offered universally accessible gameplay and an attractive price tag (free!) that took iPhones by storm.
Blood Roofs is a fairly blatant clone-with-a-twist of Temple Run, which offers—in theory at least—the same simple run-for-your-life gameplay with an oozing dollop of Lovecraftian horror on top. Players are cast as a nameless, shirtless beefcake wearing little more than a pair of kicky buccaneer boots and glossy sheen of moisture that scoops up a damsel in distress and runs like hell away from the gooey, grotesque monsters that have overrun a gloomy gothic city. The aesthetic is like the cover of a romance novel (or “fire in the pants books” as my father calls them) transplanted to the brooding Victorian world of Kalisto’s Nightmare Creatures, and it’s certainly unique.
The other unique twist is the game’s use of gunplay. In a surprisingly empowering move, the woman in your arms wields a variety of firearms that you use to dispatch the horrors that attack you across the rain-slick rooftops. This adds a combative mechanic that was absent in Temple Run, although the game’s decision to keep the camera low and close behind the characters makes squeezing off a few rounds into a monster’s brainpan more difficult than it need be. This angle also proves to be an issue judging some jumps, which often resulted in the pursued pair dropping to their dooms.
There is one major, major caveat that needs to be addressed overall, and that’s the game’s speed. The graphics are gorgeous and detailed, and the game proudly proclaims that it’s “optimized for the new iPad and the iPhone 4S.” What this meant for my aging iPhone 4 was a series of stuttering slowdowns and dropped frames that, much like the tight camera angle, led to my horrible death more often than not. This is also supposed to run on the 3GS? I find that a hard pill to swallow.
So while Blood Roofs tries to inject a shot of pulpy horror into the arm of the free-running genre, the high system demands and poor camera angle make this little more than a failed experiment.
Blood Roofs is available now on the App Store