Welcome yet again to another week of the Mobile Games Revue! Last week we met Princess Ida and the Troublesome Crow People in ustwo’s Monument Valley. This week, we’re arachnaeing it up with Danish game studio Set Snail‘s Daddy Long Legs!
First, let’s address the elephant about to be in the room: this game is basically QWOP for mobile (it even has a horse version, in case you prefer CLOP). If you’ve somehow missed the bizarre sensation that is QWOP, the essence of it is that you are trying to put one foot in front of the other. But while this is a skill most humans master early in life, it becomes a lot more difficult without the complex equilibrium sensors and trajectory calculating powers of the human subconscious. Although infinitely simpler in concept, controlling leg muscle activation of a two dimensional runner (or spider, in this case) leads to an impressive amount of flailing, falling, and general drunkenness.
Daddy Long Legs (like our previously spotlighted game, Badland) is a one-touch game, which means there’s only one control, and it’s tapping the screen. The goal is to get the main character (a remarkably bipedal, bioptical spider) as far as you can without hitting the ground. Each tap switches legs – which should in theory be even simpler than QWOP (which controls both hips and knees) – but is actually, in my opinion, much harder. To quote myself (read with extreme anger), “THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!” My current high score is ~12m, which (to give you an idea of my accomplishment) is visible from the starting line. This is very much one of those games touted as “easy to learn, difficult to master” – and it deserves the title. It’s fun to learn, though, and the twitchy controls and amusing animations make your mistakes funny, rather than frustrating.
The graphics aren’t exactly eye candy, but they’re not eye lima-beans either. The stark black, white, yellow, and red look works well for the game (and makes the failure screens charmingly Marxian). Anything more would feel frankly unnecessary. If you’re really interested in livening things up a little, you can take advantage of the game’s unlocks. Which brings us to the next item:
Aside from the initial goal of “gotta go far,” the progression in this game is tied to costumes (which range from common to extra rare). Costumes can be earned by attaining grey and golden gifts (which are earned by reaching new milestones or waiting long enough for them to “arrive”). Golden gifts have a guarantee of giving a costume, whereas grey gifts offer only a chance (and the majority of them are empty, which raises the question: who is going around gift-wrapping air?). Golden gifts may be purchased via microtransaction, at the rate of 2 for $1, 5 for $2, or 12 for $4. Not a price I would personally pay, but to each their own. They are, at least, attainable in game, and not necessary for the enjoyment of the game.
What truly detracts from Daddy Long Legs is the ads. Every few falls or so, it forces you to sit through a full 30-second commercial (depending on your skill level, this can be as little as 15 seconds of play to almost twice that in advertising). It also prompts you to watch videos voluntarily to gain 5 grey presents (or share on facebook for one golden one). This is, in my opinion, too much. I found myself so irritated with the ad interruptions during my initial trials of the game that I would set it down for a few days before returning. That said, the game is, thankfully, unlockable, and at the fairly reasonable price of $1. Here I am torn – on one hand it feels as though this ostensibly free game has a “hidden cost” (and, at least on iOS, it doesn’t tell you the ad-free price until you try to purchase it), and part of me would prefer to just pay that upfront. On the other hand, it is nice to have what is essentially a free trial, without having two separate apps, one free and one paid.
I suspect that I wouldn’t take so much exception to it if the ads were less aggressively implemented. Image ads instead of videos, or skippable video ads, or at least ads that weren’t a half a minute long, would be an improvement. One does feel somewhat harassed into buying the ad-free version (which makes the “Tired of ads?” option feel a bit cheeky).
Taking the game as itself, without the issue of the ads: it is a relatively fun (albeit not particularly original) game, with solid graphics and a decent amount of replayability. I can’t say that I would wholeheartedly recommend the experience, unless you are the sort of person with a lot of patience (both for in-game failures and long video ads) or a burning passion for spiders in costumes.