Strap in, true believers. Verticus is here to save the day!
Earlier this year, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner made international news by becoming the first person to jump from space and land on Earth. He fell so fast that he became the first person to break the sound barrier with their body. You’d think that would impress me, but it doesn’t. Why? Because I’ve played Verticus.
With a story stemming from the mind of comic book legend Stan Lee, Verticus tells the tale of a dastardly alien race trying to explode the Earth from the inside out. Only you, the hero known as Verticus, can save the planet. And you’ll do so by making Baumgartner look like the chump that he is.
Verticus will fall from space towards the ground, travel through the earth’s core, grab the explosive device planted by “The Obliterators,” and come right out the other side to throw it back in their alien faces. Let’s see you try that, Felix.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll head right back to Earth and do it again, because… video games. I suppose there’s more than one explosive device in there? It doesn’t matter – the story serves as little more than window dressing. The experience here is really shaped by the gameplay, which can best be described as a mix of Temple Run and AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!.
Verticus is an endless runner (or faller, I guess), where players need to steer their hero away from bombs, towards coins and orbs, and past obstacles and obstructions. It’s frantic, and gets moreso with every fresh trip to the Earth’s core, yet remains accessible enough that anyone can pick it up with ease. The majority of play just requires you to drag your finger around the screen to steer Verticus to safety. Purchasable power-ups can add things like missiles (that you’ll activate with the tap of a button), health, and armor – but expect almost all of your attention to be focused on keeping your hero safe and collision-free.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes be easier said than done. Because of the perspective (think of passing obstacles as if you were falling through a tunnel), it can sometimes be hard to gauge where Verticus is in relation to certain hazards. You might think he’s in the clear, only to watch him go headfirst into an explosive and bring about the end of the game. Once you’re “in the zone,” per se, this will happen less often, but that doesn’t make a lengthy run ruined by this any less frustrating.
Still, the fun you’ll have outweighs the frustrations here. The game looks great, and for the most part it plays great. And besides – who doesn’t love having Stan Lee narrate their every move? If you’re a fan of endless runners and want a change of pace, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Verticus. Just be ready for a challenge – and due to some perspective frustrations, that challenge may sometimes be an unintentional one.