Tendokore, the developer of Animality, knows exactly how to create something super-simple but ultra-punishing. The type of easy-to-play but hard-to-mater game that will keep you coming back against your better judgement. It’s not exactly a great game in any sense of the word – but if it keeps you playing, does it really matter?
An endless runner that requires only one button to be pushed, Animality sees you run through a field, switching between lanes to avoid incoming enemies. You’ll start out running on top of the ground, but pressing A will send you underneath, presumably to the “underworld”, where enemies look a little more devilish. You’ll need to repeatedly press A as enemies approach to ensure you can avoid them.
Be careful, though. Enemies move at a different speed to you, and so you’ll need to pay attention to both lanes before you switch. It’s very easy to switch a little too early, sending you crashing straight into an enemy. It caught us out many times early on, and it takes a little practice to get used to. But once you get into the groove, Animality will likely leave you hungry for a higher score.
It feels like a huge oversight that there are no global (or even local) leaderboards in Animality. Being able to compete against others would give us more reason to keep playing. But as it is, you’re simply competing against yourself to set a new record. It’s good enough, we suppose, and it still feels good to get that bit further each time you play. There are coins to collect on a run alongside minigame tokens. Coins unlock new character sprites – all based on different animals – though none have any extra abilities, so are purely cosmetic only.
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As for those minigame tokens: Animality pads out its offerings a little by including two minigames. Their only purpose is to earn bonus coins, allowing you to unlock more characters. The first is a race: simply pick a character and wait to see who reaches the flag first. No input is required from you, and if your chosen character comes first, you’ll get a nice payout of 200 coins. The second game is a little more interesting: it’s a Where’s Wally-style puzzle that has you searching for three ducks on a screen filled with animals running from side-to-side. Find three ducks in 60 seconds, and you’ll get a coin payout. It’s tricky: we’re yet to find all three but it keeps us coming back almost as much as the main event.
And… that’s really all there is to Animality. But with an eShop price of £4.49/$4.99, could we really expect much more? Sure, there are plenty of endless runner games out there that offer more depth and intrigue. But Animality nails the basics in a very simple package. Leaderboards would have been nice, as would various power-ups and abilities. But really, they’re all superfluous: the goal is simply to get as far as you can, scoring the best score possible. And Animality somehow manages to keep us coming back to do just that.
Animality lacks any real substance: this is the type of game you’ll jump into for 10 minutes at a time, while the TV’s on in the background, or while you’re waiting for the microwave to beep. There may be meatier endless runners out there, but this one-button wonder does all you need it to in order to keep you coming back.