Valley of the Savage Run is a new IP created by the developer No Six Five providing challenging and unique gameplay with some oddities which results in somewhat frustrating yet satisfactory gameplay. The player controls two alien-looking insectoids traversing through multiple levels while dodging obstacles by way of not stepping onto the wrong color depending on the insectoid chosen. One is white in color which can step only on white tiles while the other is black which can go through only black tiles without failing. Sounds simple on the front but the catch is that throughout all this chaos and hectic fast-paced gameplay, you are also chased by an annoying snail/snake-looking antagonist which must be outrun without letting it touch you. The devs do give a fair warning right from the first load up though, claiming that it is a hard game with the challenge being to reach the end credits screen (which nobody has reached yet so far).
There are two playable characters, both being somewhat of an insectoid-looking thing. The white variant goes through the white tiles while looking out for tiles that change color to not accidentally step on them, and vice versa with the black one. The obstacles in this game come in the form of changing tiles throughout the levels, which end up killing the character if a wrong one is stepped on. After a few warmup levels and going through the tutorial, this does not sound as hard if it weren’t for the second challenging factor which is a snail chasing you around the whole map while you are frantically trying to get to the end level through the correctly colored tiles.
The first few levels start as simple just engaging the player with the snail chasing the player around while your goal is to complete the level by going through the tiles carefully yet as fast as possible to avoid contact with the chaser. The game does pick up in its complexity though as later levels start implementing dual-imposed strategies from both, the white and black insectoid characters, having to combine their efforts to do tasks such as teleportation or using strategies to deceive the snail crawler for a bit which might be the only way to survive the level.
The great thing about this game is that that’s all there is when it comes to providing a frustrating yet fruitful gameplay experience. There are no hard controls or gate-locked progression that requires a grind or other means of artificial difficulty. It’s just the player’s decision-making and reaction-based skills that decide how well you perform and nothing else holding you back, resulting in a sense of satisfaction when you finally beat that annoying level which you struggled on before. The controls are simple, with taps on the screen progressing the character forward and certain tiles executing an action depending on which one it is (there are a lot of them).
There are loads of levels to progress through thanks to the ample amount of content provided, with each being segregated into its biome such as desert, volcano, river, etc.
No Six Five takes a deliberate pixel-art-based approach with some unique color pallets to compliment the level design and overall theme of the game. On the surface, it does not look like much and gives off the vibe of any generic game pixelated to save costs, but this one does look the part of it being a deliberate choice by the developers with a moderate amount of attention to detail regarding the level design environments. Maybe some other format of graphic design could have worked, but this style chosen by the developers for a game in this genre works and gets the job done where the focus is on gameplay and not graphics.
The game does have support for in-app purchases (IAP) and other MTX solutions such as paid removal of Ads, however during my playthrough I did not get any Ads during the gameplay, possibly due to it being a new game and the MTX solutions being there as a futureproof method of securing revenue. Gameplay is simple as this with unique twists and turns usually do not have room for MTX influencing the outcome of the gameplay or the experience directly itself, which is a good thing. This means players can get access to all levels and be on par in terms of gameplay without spending a dime on the game, making it truly Free-to-Play (F2P).
Pros and Cons
- Simple control and gameplay scheme Satisfactory gameplay
- Easy to get into
- Good selection of levels
- MTX does not interfere with the progression
- The game can prove to be surprisingly frustrating
- Pixel-art graphics are not for everyone
Valley of the Savage Run is still a very new game on the market, but it brings an old genre with tried and tested mechanics with its flavor and plot twists to provide a hard, frustrating yet satisfying gameplay with a challenge coming straight from the developers challenging players to reach the end screen, providing healthy competition and objective to complete for people seeking to try hard through the game. This gives it a good balance between casually playing it as well as appealing to the hardcore fan base who look for challenges that reward their time spent grinding on games.