Run for your life--and for records!

User Rating: 8 | Canabalt PC
The Good: Addicting and accessible gameplay; great presentation.

The Bad: Not much more than that; sight scrambler.

Canabalt is a free indie flash game that manages to get a simple premise represented into an even simpler gameplay mechanic: to run away from a crumbling city under attack by using only the jump button.

The game begins with you running inside a building and cinematically flying through a glass window to reach another building's rooftop. From the start you'll notice that the character runs automatically (thus, even the 'arrows' in the keyboard won't be necessary) and your duty here is "only" to time your jumps well: from one rooftop to another, climbing on cranes, avoiding static objects and dropping mines... And so on. Your main goal is to stay alive as long as you can and go as far as possible from the start point--while making your way to the top of the leaderboards.
And that's the real vocation of Canabalt. Aside being a quick entertainment that can be accessible to anyone Canabalt is a hardcore arcade-ish game disguised as a casual one that stimulates competition and technique refinement for those into it.

As the character runs it will be always accelerating--but going on full speed (by avoiding each and every obstacle on your way) may not be a good idea for those intending to reach the highest score because you'll have no time to quick react the appearance of objects in your way. The "hardcore" game hidden into Canabalt asks the player for well-timed (and aimed) jumps as much as controlling their speed by purposely stumbling into those objects to slow the character down.

Presentation in Canabalt is sharp: great, fitting tense music and a beautiful gray-scale color palette that shows well a city being vaporized by huge robots while shining-white pigeons take off right out of your way. Unfortunately one of the few complaints I have about the game is regarding this very same beautiful graphical presentation: the much-detailed background can be aching for your eyes after a couple runs.

That, and being so simple for non-hardcore players, takes a few points out from Canabalt. But there's nothing that should keep you from trying--and probably enjoying--this game.

- Reviewed for The Autonomous Regime Union.