Aby Escape is a running game which may make you want to run… in the opposite direction.

It seems like a simple enough idea, perhaps even a good one: take a popular genre of 2D iPhone game, and give it 3D gameplay. But is Aby Escape the game to realize this idea’s potential? Simply put: No. No, it is not.

Aby Escape is a game about a raccoon who must run, run, as fast as he can, as far as he can. The unfortunate thing for him, particularly given the look on the faces of the angry folks chasing him, is that he probably isn’t going to get very far before something gives out. In addition to the standard running and jumping, Aby is able to slide under some obstacles and, of course, move left and right to swerve around them. While the jumping and sliding (activated by swiping up and down on the screen, respectively) work quite well, it is unfortunately the left and right movement which really gum things up.

Unlike the touchscreen controls for jumping and sliding, left/right movement is conducted by tilting the device accordingly. Sadly, these tilt controls are not very tight, and it becomes difficult to move as far as you need to, when you need to do it. And while you can hold the device at an angle to use the tilt controls, they seem at their best (though still not quite good enough) when the phone is held straight up, which is not exactly comfortable– especially for longer playing sessions. One might be inclined to think that some sort of left/right swiping of the touchscreen would be more ideal, though that’s admittedly conjecture. Even so, the option might have been nice.

The other big mark against Aby Escape is that the developers feel, for lack of a better term, stingy. Certainly the game is free to play, but the cost of items using the in-game currency (which can be purchased for real money, natch) is simply absurd. The game feature two modes, Unlimited and Story, and you cannot even play the latter until you cough up a whopping 7,500 of the in-game coins. To shed a little light on how steep this is, we’ve played the one available stage in the one available mode several times already, and have only acquired 320 coins. Additional stages require 3,200 and 4,000 to unlock, and that’s not even getting into the future content or items in the shop.

Aby Escape Aby Escape

The coins themselves can be acquired by collecting them as you run, though many of them seem to be off the trail you need to follow, and difficult to collect as a result of the aforementioned left/right movement difficulties. You can also buy them at a rate of 2,000 for 99 cents, or even watch the same commercial repeatedly to earn 200 a pop (not counting the banner ads which appear a little intrusively on the menus).

Simply put, it’s likely to be a while before you can unlock anything new or progress in the game after you begin. That is, unless you grab your credit card. But, to be fair, stages and obstacles seem to be randomized, as each time we restarted the stage in Unlimited mode the layout was different.

Graphics and sound are serviceable, though not spectacular, and something about the main character’s design just doesn’t grab us. The game boasts 50 challenges in Unlimited mode and 30 levels split across three universes in Story mode. But between the steep pricing and the iffy controls, one has to question how many people will get to see much of the game’s content, given the tight grip on it all.

Still, it is a free-to-play, so if you’re curious, give it a shot. But in our opinion, Aby Escape is a game which might have had great potential, but as it is, has too much working against it to truly be memorable.