Earlier this month Agent Dash landed on Android, offering some familiar endless-running gameplay with a new twist. Instead of running away from angry spirits in a jungle temple, players guide Agent Dash through a series of dangerous areas in an ultimate attempt to foil Bond-esque evil geniuses.
Swipe gestures have Dash sidestep, leap, and slide beneath incoming obstacles while he also tries to collect stray diamonds, which are used to purchase new gadgets and unlock new agents. Of course, as a free title, those gems can be bought through in-app purchases. Despite having a lot in common with Temple Run, Agent Dash has quite a few things that set it apart.
Graphics and audio
Despite having a gameplay mechanic very similar to Temple Run, the graphics and animation are leagues ahead. There are rich lighting effects that are immediately apparent from the jungle stage, and there plenty more when you start dealing with laser grid traps and lava pits. The game’s art style is a lot like something you’d see from a Disney movie like The Incredibles, which is by no means a bad thing. The soundtrack and sound effects are similarly classic but exaggerated. Subtle touches like the sound of footsteps and a slight bob to the camera as Dash runs his course show a careful attention to detail. Unfortunately, the demanding graphics caused occasional dips in framerate on my Galaxy Nexus.
In addition to Agent Dash, players can unlock other runners, including a female agent and some distinctly familiar villains, like one character with an iron jaw and a short fellow with a deadly hat. Though most of those unlocks are simply new outfits for existing characters, it’s ample customization and more straightforward than dealing with an array of individual items.
Gameplay and controls
In addition to swiping to get around, tapping destructible objects has your agent open fire with one of two pistols. It would be nice to have the option of motion controls, which would be easier to execute than swipes in some instances.
Progression is tricky. The start of every round pits players at the start of the jungle, which in and of itself can be challenging; it may be a long time before you see the lair or the town again after you screw up a run. It would be great if you could jump right to a particular stage, if only to prevent the jungle area from becoming a tired and onerous chore.
Gadgets are the clearest form of long-term progression, but there’s only four of them with 5 levels to upgrade each, and even then, they’re just power-ups that can pop-up throughout a level - not anything you get to keep or start with. The beginning of every round also pesters players to buy boost power-ups with gems to ease their progress on this particular run. There’s a long list of Objective challenges to complete, each one rewarding players with an extra percentage multiplier on their score. Of course, you can just buy your way into achieving those too.
Facebook plugs in so you can see how your score stacks up against friends that are also playing, and it’s positioned front and center as soon as you start the game. I don’t expect to be playing much with friends, so if it’s all the same, I’d rather just skip a tap and launch right into the game once booted up.
- Excellent art style
- Familiar, polished gameplay
- Slight lags
Despite drawing plenty of obvious inspiration from Temple Run, Agent Dash has its own unique flavor and twist on gameplay. Going through the beginning jungle area over and over again just to get a glimpse of the next section can be a chore for newbies, but after you put in the time, you’ll be reaching new areas without batting an eyelash. The game’s graphics are extremely good, but make sure you’ve got a phone that can handle it - even slight hiccups are enough to derail you from your mission.