Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s – oh, he’s plummeted to his death. Poor boy. This is the story of Star Hound. Stuck in a groundhog day, Star Hound must attempt to make it as far as he can through the city. Leaping from building to building, high above the clouds, there’s no end goal, no damsel in distress.
“Depth in any form is absent”Forever running, he traverses buildings and alien spaceships above the clouds using a grappling hook and a jetpack. Fuel for the jetpack is dotted throughout to keep it running, and run you must. Progress is measured by the distance travelled in a single attempt. Make it far enough and our canis lupus familiaris, to be scientific, may start again at a later point. Fall into the clouds below and time restarts once more.
Keiffer Bros’ free runner can be judged by its cover. Depth in any form is absent, leaving reasons for returning minimal if not entirely nonexistent. Perhaps, however, that is to over critique. But should that be the case, this then leaves the question open of whether the result here was worth achieving. In a sea of other games flooding the market, there becomes a greater need to stand out. Equally, accepting the achievement of lower goals as a triumph would be unfair and inappropriate.
Star Hound isn’t broken, it’s not offensive and it does not frustrate. But neither does it create an emotional connection or response. And the absence of in-app purchases is not enough to guarantee a recommendation. What it does manage to do is indirectly highlight the resemblance between current iOS development and earlier bedroom coding. Both allowed developers new and old to create and trade products, regardless of the quality and/or success. Many of those involved in those early scenes later went on to work on larger projects. Regardless of the outcome here, if games like Star Hound are treated as stepping stones we should expect to see a healthy hierarchy form.