Pixellated games have been a runaway hit in the App Store, but Knitted Deer ($0.99) from the developer of Relic Run is aiming to start a new trend that I hope catches on – the knit sweater look. That’s right, Knitted Deer is essentially an endless runner that takes place on a sweater.
Knitted Deer, which is an iPhone-only game, features a deer as the main character. Controls are similar to any other runner, with jumping on the left and shooting on the right. This is a weapon-equipped deer, by the way, who must destroy the knitted enemies in his path.
The deer will run forward continuously and the goal is to shoot and jump when appropriate. If you don’t jump at the right time or if an animal enemy gets you, the deer will die in a wash of gory knit blood. You also need to avoid blocks, which offer imminent death if touched on a corner or a side.
When you die, you’re transported to hell, where you battle in a slightly different scene. Hell is quite a bit harder, with bats, skulls, and spears to avoid. After you die in hell, you will need to restart from the beginning, back in standard Earth sweater mode. The game uses a Heaven-Earth-Hell concept, which isn’t very notable because all of the stages are essentially the same.
Slaughtering animals with your gun as you run results in coins, which are used to purchase weapon upgrades and power ups. These power ups are essential for getting further in the game. There are no rewards for progressing through Knitted Deer though, aside from Game Center leaderboards which is, admittedly, a bit disappointing.
While I loved the look and the concept behind Knitted Deer, I was less enthralled with the controls. Maybe it’s because I was coming to this game after a serious Temple Run: Oz bender, but I thought the jumping mechanics were off. Jumping in Knitted Deer is inaccurate and gravity defying because you get quite a bit of air when you leap up. It’s a type of floating jump mechanic that some games use, and it’s one that I never enjoy.
In Knitted Deer, floating jumps are entirely frustrating because there’s no margin for error. If you jump off of a pillar wrong, you will splat against the side. There are also no extra lives, so one mistake equals game over, which is a bit unforgiving given the controls. This makes Knitted Deer challenging, but not in a fun way.
I was also unimpressed with the general environment, which is made up of simple jumping obstacles and enemies. With so many endless runners in the App Store, there’s a lot to compete with.
I liked Knitted Deer despite its control scheme, but I liked it for the novelty rather than the gameplay. Hopefully knit-style games will catch on, because it sure is a fun concept. As for Knitted Deer, I’d go ahead and skip it unless you’re purchasing the game for the concept alone and don’t mind the frustrating gameplay.