A competitor to the highly popular Temple Run, Running with Friends is Zynga’s newly released endless runner game aimed at gaining a piece of the booming mobile phone gaming market. The game is a little late on the race over mobile phone gaming. For some players, it would likely look like a copycat of the successful Temple Run mobile phone game. Nevertheless, the game is promising. It is unlike the typical releases from Zynga as it veers away from the characteristic social media bound games released by the publisher.
The game is initially available only for iOS device users: iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch. It can already be downloaded from the Apple App Store for free. However, the Android version is expected to be released shortly. Its multilingual support covers nine languages: Japanese, Korean, traditional and simplified Chinese, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and of course English.
Running with Friends is evidently the more action-packed “with Friends” game from Zynga. It is fast-paced and provides asynchronous gameplay that is likely to attract casual gamers. The game is divided into three rounds. Difficulty increases as players go into the later rounds.
The game—obviously—is about running, based on the annual Running of the Bulls event on the streets of the city of Pamplona in Spain. A player will have to race against bulls while occasionally smashing hurdles and obstacles to gain points. The goal is to outrun and dodge several characters or elements including bulls, cars, flying barrels, and other runners.
Unlike Temple Run, which uses the device’s accelerometer to control the player character, Running with Friends allows players to control their characters through vertical and horizontal swipes on the display. Players may also ride on a bull to earn bonuses. Unfortunately, the game does not have too many “power-ups” or upgrades. There are no additional opportunities to earn extra points similar to what other games offer through daily challenges or by watching ads. Players are also not afforded the option to customize their avatars although a number of in-game characters are available including a ballerina, ninja and zombie.
Player performance is rated based on the distance covered and the number of stars picked up. Completing words by picking up letters along the way also results in the earning of gems. Player performance provides the experience points necessary for levelling up. The gems can be used to resurrect the player’s game character or to purchase new avatars.
In line with the “with Friends” franchise, the game allows competition between friends or against random players within the game. The game also features a leaderboard that makes it easy to find a player of comparable skill to challenge.
What distinguishes Running with Friends from other games in the endless runner genre is its ability to allow players to play with other players. The game still infuses the social component associated with Zynga but it now offers an enticing and exciting core gameplay. The game tries to duplicate the success of the popular Words with Friends in a more fast-paced game. It can be viewed as an attempt at expanding the theme of Zynga’s “With Games” franchise, which has been prominently related to board games.
The game does not feature a single player mode—something one should already expect given the title of the game. Nevertheless, it provides three ways to connect and play with other players. One option is by playing against friends on Facebook. Another is through an automatic smart match wherein opponents are chosen by the game. Players may also enter or specify the friend’s username with whom they want to play.
Running with Friends is classified as a 3D action arcade game. It has been designed to work with iOS versions not older than iOS 5.0 but is optimized for the iPhone 5. Hence, it makes good use of the latest iPhone high pixel density display. Graphics are expectedly detailed and crisp. An HD version is available but it is intended for the iPad for now.
Running with Friends was created by developers who were also involved in the designing of Scramble with Friends. The game was developed in collaboration with Eat Sleep Play, the game development studio responsible for Twisted Metal. As mentioned earlier, the game is from well-known games company Zynga, particularly the Zynga with Friends subsidiary based in McKinley Texas.