There’s a similarity between how we consume food and how we consume mobile games. For every three course meal of a meaty and substantial RPG, there’s also the french fries of gaming – those titles that fill you up for a little while, but are ultimately pretty forgettable and pointless. For those precious few moments of consumption though, they’re pretty tasty. Smurfs Epic Run is french fries in this analogy – it’s fun while you play, but you won’t exactly be telling your friends what an amazing time you had.
As the name suggests, Smurfs Epic Run is an auto-runner game. Each level only takes a minute or two to complete, ideally suiting the bitesized nature of the genre. You control a Smurf of your choosing as they run across each level, rescuing their fellow Smurfs, and picking up various collectibles. Controls are simple with you tapping to jump as well as holding that tap to glide or fly, depending on the Smurf you’re currently using.
That simplicity is a constant throughout what unfolds. You’re usually jumping over spikes or gaps, with occasional choices to make as to which direction you take. Reacting quickly is key here, but also quite satisfyingly balanced so you won’t feel let down by anything other than your reaction speed. While you can always continue by using up a premium currency, it’s expensive, and you’re better off just restarting.
You gain one star for simply completing the stage, with a second for collecting all of the trapped Smurfs, and a third for grabbing a certain number of coins. Often, it’s not hard to achieve this, although if you do miss a trapped Smurf, you’ll have to restart a stage to try again. Each level is randomized too, so you’re never certain of what you’re going to get. That keeps things interesting.
Smurfs Epic Run maintains that Mario-lite feeling pretty well. Where does it falter? In a bevy of freemium based bits and pieces. They’re not the worst we’ve ever seen, but they will increase your odds of getting a little bored. The most noticeable is its energy system. You only have so much energy that affects how many times you can play a level before you have to wait for it to recharge. The first dozen or so levels, Smurfs Epic Run is pretty generous, giving you a fair amount of opportunity to play. Soon enough though, you’ll only really have the energy to play a few levels before you have to wait for it to recharge. For a game that’s so disposable, it’s a risky move. It’s all too easy to just not get round to returning. as Smurfs Epic Run doesn’t offer anything quite weighty enough to leave you chomping at the bit for more.
Elsewhere, the filler material isn’t so bad. You can use coins to unlock new characters, items, and equipment – all of which boost your chances to collect more stuff. The characters are admittedly pretty charming, given they reflect different types of Smurf, but that’s about as far as this game goes in terms of offering up significant personality. You can complete certain missions, too, which further unlock extra bonuses. It’s simple stuff like this that keeps Smurfs Epic Run mildly enticing, but I’m not convinced it’s got any great longevity to it. Just like with the humble french fry, you’ll soon find yourself longing for something with more bite and sustenance to it. This is a palate cleanser of a game, and if treated as such, not such a bad one at that.