Lara Croft: Relic Run hit the Windows Phone Store a few weeks ago and offers a challenging endless runner game to pass the time with. You play the role of Lara Croft and help guide her through ancient locations where she jumps over, under and around various dangers.
You collect clues and power-ups to help you survive the journey with hopes to uncover ancient relics. Each location will feature unique game play elements and boss fights. Graphics are good, gaming mechanics simple and the challenges of Lara Croft: Relic Run will keep you on your toes.
The downside of things is that the Windows Phone game isn't available for low-memory devices. The upside is that it is a free Xbox title and is one of the more challenging endless runner games I've played.
Once Lara Croft: Relic Run loads, you will be greeted with the games' main menu. The menu offers up options to choose your world, access the game's store, view the leaderboard, view your achievements, view the relics you have collected and access the game's settings.
You will also find a pull-out menu at the bottom of the screen to view Lara Croft's gear and one at the top to see any messages you have.
The game's store is where you can spend the coins and diamonds you earn during game play on equipment upgrades, power-ups and new outfits for Ms. Croft. Game settings are somewhat minimal with options to skip or reset the tutorial, turn on or off the Parkour slow motion, choose your language and link the game to your Facebook account (optional). The game will automatically find your Xbox gamer tag and make that association.
Lara Croft: Relic Run has two worlds to run through with a third marked as "Coming Soon". You begin the game racing through the jungles and a desert world becomes available when you find 15 relics (or spend 500 diamonds to unlock immediately).
Relic Run will start game play with a short tutorial that covers the moves needed to have Croft navigate past the various dangers. The mechanics of the game are gesture based and not unlike other endless runner games we have seen before. You swipe up to jump, swipe down to slide or jump down quickly and swiping left/right will move Croft accordingly.
Additionally, a series of Parkour moves will launch for certain obstacles. If enabled in the settings, when these movements are initiated Croft goes into slow motion to give the game a nice visual.
The gestures are responsive most of the time, but I did experience a few misreads and times where the gestures did not register at all. These misreads can be a little frustrating and often results in Lara Croft running head first into a boulder.
Along with running Lara Croft through the ancient worlds, you will have the opportunity to hop on a four-wheeler or motorcycle to help you conquer the terrain in a speedier fashion. To further help with the variety of the game, you will also run through areas where you have to shoot monsters who are trying to ruin your day.
Should Lara Croft meet her fate by missing a jump, running into a wall or by any of the other dangers she will face you can resurrect her by spending a resurrection Ankh (token). Each resurrection will double the cost and if you run out of tokens, you can pick more up in the game's store.
The game will have supply drops periodically to give your coin or gem count a small boost. At the end of each game, you will see your scoring summary with store purchase opportunities and a play again button. Be cared in tapping the play again button because it sits close enough to the purchase button for the gaming store ad that you may inadvertently buy a new pair of boots instead of relaunching the game.
While I liked Lara Croft: Relic Run, it is one of the more challenging endless runner games I've played. The graphics are well drawn up, but the shadows of the jungle often hide dangers. This minimizes your reaction time that often sees Lara Croft missing a jump and falling to her doom at the bottom of a crevice.
As far as gaming performance and stability is concerned, the initial load times can be lengthy and I did experience a slight graphics lag when first starting game play. You also have the occasional issues with the movement gestures and hopefully a little under the hood fine-tuning can fix these issues. While they can be frustrating, I don't think any are deal breakers for the game.
Where Despicable Me: Minion Rush is a light-hearted, fun endless runner game, Lara Croft: Relic Run has a little more bite and challenge to it. I do like the four-runner and motorcycles that come into play, but wish Lara Croft would continue her run if you crash the vehicle.
All in all, Lara Croft: Relic Run joins a crowded field of endless runner games available in the Windows Phone Store but has plenty of features to help the game stand out from the crowd. One can hope that low-memory support is in the works to allow the game to be enjoyed across the full Windows Phone device range.
If you have tried Lara Croft: Relic Run, let us know what you think of the Xbox gaming title in the comments below.