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Panic Land app review: a haunted endless runner game

Reviews

Introduction

Endless runner games have been a phenomenon now for a number of years and there always seems to be another new contender just around the corner. These games all offer a similar type of gameplay – it’s usually just the characters and landscape that change. They can probably be further differentiated between side scrollers and front runners, but they all essentially have the same objective – keep running as long as you can and collect all the points you can in the process. That doesn’t mean that every endless runner game is just as good as any other as there are some endless runner games that simply have to be classed as duds.

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A newcomer to the endless runner platform is a game called Panic Land and this game attempts to differentiate itself from other endless runner games by offering a haunted backdrop that’s meant to get the user’s heart thumping. It certainly introduces something a little new to the platform, but just because something is new it doesn’t mean it will be an overwhelming success. This is a free game and it’s compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Panic Land

Free

Main Menu

Characters and Theme

It is true that the game does include four different characters to choose from as its creator asserts, but the suggestion that they’re “mysteriously dark” is a bit of a stretch. It seems the designer has tried to re-create the feel of a classic movie such as The Nightmare before Christmas and some users might really enjoy this. When you play the game you certainly get a feeling that the app designer had a pretty good idea in mind and, in some points, it really does work.

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It isn’t just the characters that are meant to give the game a nightmarish and haunted feel, it’s also the backdrop that the game is played in. The world that your character explores is entirely bathed in shadows. In an effort to complete the haunted nature of the app, the developer has included a dark musical score which is something that I really liked.

Graphics and Gameplay

The game is set in a nighttime atmosphere with a large moon in the background and the entire world enveloped in shadows as we’ve already stated. Your character jumps from branch to branch, through what looks like a network of trees while avoiding spinning blades and other obstacles. The overall concept isn’t a bad one, but I feel that something is still missing which would make this game a huge hit in my eyes.

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Perhaps, the main reason I feel like there’s something lacking overall, is the gameplay. The controls have a quirky nature that make this feel less than smooth and an overall awkward experience. To jump over an object you simply tap on the arrow on the left-hand side that’s pointing up and to roll under an object you simply tap and hold the arrow on the right-hand side that’s pointing down. That’s all pretty simple to figure out, but unfortunately the game doesn’t react as quickly as needed. There’s a consistent stutter or lag in response time to your tapping of the controls. In some cases, this can really throw off your game and cause you to lose your life.

Panic Land

Free

An example of the theme, characters and graphics

Game Centre Integration and Sharing

The app does have Game Centre integration which is always fun to see where you rank and to try to move up the leaderboards. At times, I did experience some technical issues with this feature. But, when it worked, it was a nice addition to the game.

Another aspect of the game that’s appealing is the ability to share screenshots of the game and challenge your friends and family members. We all love a little friendly competition and this game allows you to not only move up a leaderboard, but to also do some smack talking when you issue a challenge to friends.

Advertisements vs No Advertisements

Probably, the biggest issue I had with this app was the generous use of advertisements throughout. I have no problem with the developer making money from a free game by including some advertisements, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the user. In this game, you’ll find banner ads along the bottom of every screen and you’ll also have to put up with full paged ads every third or fourth game that you can’t bypass. It’s just too many advertisements for any app.

So, if you feel the same frustrations as I did, then you do have the option of an in-app purchase that disables the ads. Honestly, I think dealing with the ads in the free version is almost like having to play a game within a game.

A screenshot that shows the arrows to tap on for moving the character

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Four different characters to choose from
  • The haunting music in it works well with the overall theme
  • A unique gaming environment

Cons

  • There seems to be a lag in response time after tapping the controls
  • There are banner ads and full paged ads throughout the game

Not the Haunting Experience I Was Looking for

If you’re like me then you’re a big fan of the endless runner game category and you’re always looking for something new and exciting. Whether it was my high expectations or just me missing the boat on this game’s appeal, I felt unsatisfied with Panic Land. And, the ads in the free version were just too much for a game that I was already on the fence with. But, as I always say, if an app is free then it doesn’t hurt to try it out. So, if this is your favorite gaming genre then give it a chance and see if you are more satisfied with it than I was.

Panic Land

Free
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Allan Calder

Allan is a freelance writer who loves scouring the App Store for exciting, intriguing and unique apps.