Blood Roofs (iOS) review

Blood Roofs is an iOS game from Gamesmold. It has been available for some time now, but is currently enjoying a $0.99 sale price in an attempt to bring in some new players.

Blood Roofs is an “autorunner” action game in which players take on the role of a two-character team — male character Jake is in charge of running and jumping, and wounded girl Catherine is in charge of shooting enemies with her submachine gun while Jake carries her. The aim of the game is for Jake and Catherine to proceed through a series of levels, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, defeating enemies and occasionally facing down large boss monsters.

Blood Roofs is controlled through a combination of tilt and touch controls. Tilting the device left or right moves Jake left or right as he runs forward, and buttons at the perimeter of the screen allow him to jump and for Catherine to fire or reload her weapon. If Jake collects certain items dropped by monsters, he gains additional special abilities, including the ability to “double jump” thanks to a pair of wings he sprouts from his back. The main game mode is based on fixed linear levels, but an infinite “survival mode” may be unlocked. The game features Game Center leaderboards for both modes, encouraging social play and allowing players to directly challenge one another using iOS 6.

The game is immaculately presented, running at a butter-smooth 60 frames per second on iPhone 4S and up, though it reportedly stutters a bit on previous-generation devices according to App Store reviewers. The graphics themselves are gorgeous, evoking a “gothic romance” aesthetic with some imaginative, horrific monster designs, and on the technical front there is full antialiasing and specular highlighting on the environment, giving it a very impressive look.

Where it falls down a little is in how it plays, however. The tilt controls are reasonably sensitive, though there’s no option to use touch-based controls for movement for those who desire it, nor any means to adjust the sensitivity. The touchscreen buttons are very small, too, which may cause concern for some. Thankfully, their touch-sensitive area appears to be larger than their on-screen representation, so the decision for them to be so small is presumably largely intended to ensure they do not draw attention away from the impressive scenery. The controls aren’t perfect, but they are at least serviceable.

A much bigger concern is the dreadful camera, however. In an attempt to make the game look more “cinematic,” it often pans and tilts to awkward angles, making it difficult to judge exactly which direction Jake is running or how far it is necessary to tilt the device to ensure he doesn’t plummet to his doom or charge headlong into a pillar and be caught by the monster chasing him. The cinematic camera angles certainly look impressive, but when the main character is taking up the vast majority of the screen and actively blocking the player’s view of obstacles coming up in front of them, this is a major problem. The camera angle used when jumping is also frequently problematic — it doesn’t “look down” far enough for the player to be able to judge where they should land, often leading to frustrating deaths. Gamesmold claims that this camera angle was “improved” in the last update, but it is still a major hindrance to gameplay, and difficult to forgive in a game so reliant on precise platform game skills.

The game is a paid app, but also monetizes through the sale of in-game currency, which can be used to unlock additional “partner” characters (each of whom has a different weapon), game modes and powerups. The “Chaos Coins” required to purchase these items can be acquired through normal play, but at a very slow rate, making it particularly impractical to unlock the additional characters through grinding as they cost 9,000, 15,000 and 30,000 coins respectively — an average run tends to net no more than a couple of hundred coins.

Blood Roofs isn’t a bad game, but its camera issues in particular prevent what should have been a showcase iOS game from being considered an essential purchase. With an update to adjust this issue, this could be a real standout title in the crowded autorunner genre — sadly, though, the last update to the game was back in October 2012, so it doesn’t look likely. As it stands, then, Blood Roofs is worth a look for its beautiful presentation, but its gameplay is left significantly wanting.

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An update to fix this game’s issues is looking more and more unlikely as time passes, but in the meantime it’s worth a look for its presentation alone.