Temple Run 2 is a new mobile game from Imangi, out now on iOS and due next week on Android. It’s a sequel to the developer’s previous runaway (no pun intended) success, but the “endless runner” genre has become increasingly crowded since the first game’s release, so can Imangi still keep pace?
Temple Run 2 doesn’t deviate significantly from its predecessor’s formula. The player character — now selectable from a set of four, though three of them have to be unlocked with in-game currency — is constantly fleeing from a pursuing demon monkey down an endless labyrinth of clifftop pathways, ziplines, minecart tracks and other perilous obstacles. Players control the hero by swiping up or down to jump over or slide under obstacles, swiping left or right to turn around 90-degree corners and tilting left or right to move laterally and pick up coins or perhaps avoid holes in the pathway.
The most obvious difference between Temple Run 2 and its predecessor is in presentation. The sequel features much more detailed graphics, but this has the unfortunate side-effect of making some obstacles much more difficult to parse at speed. For example, a new obstacle features a 90-degree turn at the edge of a cliff which the player can fall off if they don’t follow it around, but the corner is almost impossible to discern until you are right on top of it, meaning it can look suspiciously like there is nowhere to go.
Like its predecessor, Temple Run 2 allows acquired coins to be spent on upgrading the character’s abilities and unlocking various powerups. Each ability has several “levels” of upgrade which become increasingly expensive and nudge the player more heavily in the direction of in-app purchases with each new addition. On top of the unlockable abilities, each character has a unique power that can be upgraded by using the game’s hard currency of gems in varying quantities. Gems may also be used to “save” the player from death as many times as they can afford in a single run, though it becomes more expensive with each subsequent continue. This mechanic does, however, effectively allow players to buy high scores, as with a large enough stock of gems, they can continue for quite a long time. This somewhat goes against the spirit of competitive leaderboard-based games, but is nothing unusual in modern mobile and social games. Admittedly, gems may be acquired through leveling up by completing objectives or simply by snatching them when they occasionally appear during play, but the rate of income when acquiring them this way is so low that there’s little option beyond turning to the in-app purchases if the player wants to pick up gems.
In terms of social features, the game offers players rewards for liking the game on Facebook and following it on Twitter, and also allows players to post a screenshot of their results screen via social media, iMessage/text message, email or simply save it to their camera roll. Game Center leaderboards also allow players to directly compare their performance against their friends, though this is not very prominently presented within the game itself — players must back all the way out to the main menu in order to see this is even an option.
On the whole, Temple Run 2 is a competent but unimaginative sequel to its predecessor. It does not play significantly differently, despite the presence of new obstacles and environmental elements such as rope slides and minecart tracks, and the monetization feels much more aggressive. Perhaps more seriously, the controls don’t feel as tight, either — on more than one occasion during testing, the player character inexplicably hurled themselves sideways off the pathway when attempting to jump over a simple gap, leading to a death which did not feel like my fault. Combine these occasional control quirks with the difficulty to discern some obstacles as a result of the more detailed graphics, and you have a game which, while certainly more impressive in technical terms, is noticeably more frustrating — and not in an addictive, “just one more go” way.
Ultimately, Temple Run 2 is a sequel which didn’t really need to be made. For newcomers to the series, it’s a good entry point, but those who played and enjoyed the original may find themselves disappointed at the relative lack of new features and the noticeably more aggressive monetization. It remains to be seen if it can acquire and maintain an audience in the long-term as successfully as its predecessor.
Temple Run 2 is currently ranked at No. 1 in the Top Free Apps, Top Free iPad Apps, Top Free Games and Top Free iPad Games charts. It’s also ranked at No. 12 in Top Grossing Apps, No. 39 in Top Grossing iPad Apps, No. 11 in Top Grossing Games and No. 27 in Top Grossing iPad Games. This suggests it’s off to a good start — players are both downloading the game and putting money into it — but it’s the long-term picture that will be interesting to look at with this sequel. You can follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
It’s Temple Run again, but with better graphics and more aggressive monetization.