Doesn’t quite do enough to get a-head
Don’t lose your head, but there’s a new endless runner available in the App Store! What’s that? You’ve already lost it, and now you’re losing blood everywhere you go? Oh well, let’s just – pardon the expression – run with it.
Headless is a tribute to “Miracle Mike,” who purportedly bled for 18 months following his decapitation. At least, that’s how the game’s title screen tells it. We’re assuming that Mike was a chicken, as that’s what you play as throughout this game. Well, most of Mike, anyway – as the name and tribute indicate, you’re basically running for what’s left of your life, minus your cranium, with blood splashing out all the while.
Truth be told, the cartoonish blood loss is perhaps the most interesting thing about this game. As the chicken runs along, it’s losing blood from a gauge measuring how much it has left. Along the way, there are items which look like filled bags from a blood bank (or messy ketchup packets – take your pick), that serve to replenish a portion of your constantly-depleting vital fluid.
Making it a little more interesting still is that, unlike many/most endless runners, the presence of the blood gauge potentially allows you to take more than one hit. Most titles in the genre will take you out if you hit darn near anything, but so long as you have enough blood to take the blow, your heart will go on. Even so, it doesn’t take too much to send your chicken off to the nearest KFC; there are plenty of deadly obstacles all about, from razor-edged fan blades to moving hooks, along with our favorite, the electric fence. In some cases, depending on how your trajectory carries you, you might take more than one hit from them, the larger ones in particular.
In addition to running, though, you can maneuver your chicken’s position on the screen with a simple left or right tilt, which works rather well. Tapping the screen lets you jump, with multiple taps corresponding to flapping your wings – just don’t stay airborne for too long. Flying is an easy way to avoid grounded obstacles, but making close calls is a great way to increase your score, too, so measure each possibility accordingly.
The gameplay is accompanied by visuals and music which lend it the feel of an old-timey black-and-white film, albeit with splashes of red here and there. Obstacles feature a white outline to help separate them from the background, and the music is somewhat jovial in spite of the somewhat-grim subject matter. It all comes together in a nice package of lighthearted, but somewhat black humor.
In the end, Headless is ultimately good, but nothing quite spectacular. It has some neat ideas, yet at the same time, you still feel like you’re playing just another endless runner. If you love the genre, then that’s great! Go forth without fear! If you’re tired of it, though, or just need something with a bit more “oomph,” then you may want to look elsewhere for your fix. Oh, and it probably goes without saying that some may not find it suitable for kids. Perhaps even less so for any animal rights activists you may know.