All them bones.
Mansion Run is a simple “endless runner” in which you play as a dapper skeleton named Bones Wellington, who must flee from a gang of ghosts while dodging haunted furniture and collecting the bones that are lying around his mansion. It’ll put your reflexes to the test, but aside from a steady increase in obstacles and speed, what you see in the first 30 seconds of play is quite literally what – and all – you get.
Endless runners are fairly basic games by their nature, but even in that context Mansion Run is a very stripped-down experience. Its main claim to fame is that it forgoes the gap-jumping seen in most such games, and instead requires you to swipe up and down to change the floors that Bones is running on. In fact, it plays less like an endless runner and more like those old-time top-down racing games in which you’d move a car left and right to dodge and pass slower traffic. Instead of dodging traffic, however, you’re trying not to run into furniture, like couches, grandfather clocks, bird cages and decorative suits of armor, which I guess must be haunted – they glow and jiggle and insist on getting in your way as you try to move by.
The game starts off very slowly but gradually picks up speed, and it doesn’t take long before you’re swiping up and down like mad, trying to keep from running headlong into your stuff. Complicating matters further are the fortunately-rare holes in the floor that you’ll occasionally stumble across, which will drop you one floor down without warning if you don’t dodge them. The game will also throw quick-time events at you every now and then – and for those unfamiliar with the term, it means that four arrows will flash on the screen, and you’ll have to quickly swipe the indicated sequence or suffer the rather dire consequences.
On the happier side of the coin, power-ups will make your life a little easier for the duration of a single game. Powered by the bones you collect – 100 bones will allow you to buy one power-up in the Mansion Run shop – they can repel ghosts (although I’m not sure what the value of that is, since they never catch you anyway), make you invincible, or slow your movement down to a crawl. The catch is that you can’t choose which one you buy; your only option is to lay down your bones for a random power-up and then make the best of whatever you get.
If you want more power-ups, you can also purchase 1000 bones for 99 cents, or a “bone doubler” for the same price. And if you’re lucky, you’ll run across holes in the bottom floor or stairs at the top that will take you to the temporary safety of either the basement or the attic, which also just happen to be filled with bones. Watching for these special entrances to appear is distracting, but taking advantage of them is very lucrative
The pixel art graphics are good if you like that sort of thing, but nothing that will make your eyes cheer and beg for more; and the halls you run through – at least as far as I got in the game, which is third on the all-time leaderboard, so in your face – never change. The chiptune soundtrack is quite similar: decent but quickly repetitive. And while it’s very simple to play, it can be difficult to gauge where exactly the hit detection line is drawn when you’re trying to squeeze Bones through a really tight space; visually, he’s just too big to fit through some spaces (even though he does), and it ends up feeling a little imprecise as a result.
There are two unlockable characters you can play with instead of Bones, but they’re just eye candy and don’t have any functional impact on the game, and even the ten Game Center achievements aren’t much of a hook: I had all but one captured in well under an hour, and the one I don’t have appears to be glitched, because when I earned it – I’m quite sure I earned it – the game awarded me another achievement entirely.
The bottom line is that Mansion Run is a very simple, basic game that will give your swiping finger a workout, but probably doesn’t have the depth to keep you coming back for very long. It’s an amusing diversion – just don’t expect it to be anything more.