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Gaming On-The-Go: 'Subway Surfers' Creators Strike For Second Success With 'Blades Of Brim'

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Gaming On-The-Go is a weekly series that explores the mobile gaming industry, as well as uncovering the current trends, with hands-on guides for the latest smartphone and tablet games.

Tap to start running, swipe left and right, jump over obstacles, collecting coins as you go. Whatever you do, just keep running — until you die.

It's no surprise that endless runner games are among the most popular downloads in app stores. With such a simple concept, anyone who has a phone can easily play, attempting to outrace their last try each time.

Addicting titles like Temple Run and Subway Surfers come to mind when we think of these types of games. Run, jump and move left to right, as you get faster and the tracks get harder with the progression of the game. 

Subway Surfers has been downloaded over 700 million times since May 2012. And now, its creators at SYBO Games are on a quest to strike success for the second time — releasing Blades of Brim for iOS on June 3.

But are they feeling the pressure this second time around? SYBO creative director and co-founder Sylvester Rishøj Jensen and CEO and co-founder Bodie Jahn-Mulliner say yes.

"Of course there has been pressure, but we kind of thrive on that at SYBO Games," they wrote in a joint email, adding that it's not something that consumes them. After all, without the success of Subway Surfers, they would not be able to produce such a creative followup.

"Pushing the limits is really why we keep on. There will always be pressure, and we relish it," they added.

Blades of Brim is a 3D endless runner mobile game, in which users run through the whimsical world of Brim, attempting to make it through without being attacked by monsters.

Rather than focus on the endless runner aspect of the game, SYBO added various features to make it more about RPG combat than just racking up coins as you go.

"The classical runner is the same exact experience after 1,000 plays. We want to let the player feel that the game evolves over time, and that everything they collect and achieve adds up to create something of real value in the game," Jensen and Jahn-Mulliner wrote. "In effect, the player is creating their own history in our world through their own experiences, and that's something that hasn't really been done in a runner."

During each unique run, the player has to navigate through multiple obstacles that involve jumping over gaps, avoiding walls and thorn bushes, and of course one-eyed purple monsters — some that fly, and some that require more than one strike. If you don't strike your weapon first, they will definitely attack you. There are also different kinds and sizes of monsters to defeat, always keeping you on your toes.

After downloading the game, you'll receive a tutorial teaching you how to navigate the world and how to defeat the monster minions. Tap to begin each round, and your character automatically starts running. Swipe left or right to slay a monster on the opposing side with your weapon. You can also slide down to roll right over them.

Throughout your run, you collect coins along the way. Keep collecting coins so you can purchase upgrades to weapons, armor and pets (don't worry, we'll get to this!) If you die without reaching the checkpoints, you will lose your stash of coins. Each time you reach a checkpoint, the level of difficulty increases.

"We chose this approach as it adds a great mini-game inside the core game," the co-founders explained. "The intensity builds up as you are carrying more and more loot that you could actually lose, and each time you reach a stash point you feel the very satisfying relief as your loot is being stashed."

There are also level quests players can complete to level up and get rewards like unlocking a new character or pet. These feats include defeating a "Crusher" enemy with a side attack or reaching a specific number of score points. This idea is also seen in games like Subway Surfers, and the quests are not too challenging.

Use your coins to buy new heroes when they are unlocked. Another way to get rewards is to enter the dungeon during a run. Defeat the monsters and once you clear the dungeon, you will be rewarded with a chest. Chests can contain something like a new weapon or boost. You can also use coins to buy chests for rare and common loot.

Arguably the best feature in Blades of Brim is the pets.

"Having magical pets was always part of the initial vision that lead us to creating Blades of Brim," the creators said. The inspiration for the pets was right under their noses — IceHowl, the first pet a player receives, was based on Jahn-Mulliner's dog, Lucy.

"Lucy never shoots piercing bolts of ice in the office, though," Jensen joked. "She's well-trained."

As your character runs, you can double tap to unleash your pet, which serves as an ally — but they only ride along for a few seconds. While riding a pet, tap on the screen to shoot at monsters.

"It seems obvious when you ask yourself, 'What would be the raddest thing in the world?' When you make games, there's really no limits to what you can do," they mused. "You might as well take it all the way."

My first impression upon downloading Blades of Brim was that it would be too similar to Subway Surfers. But as I quickly found out, that was not the case. It's always a challenge, because you're constantly battling enemies. It took me quite some time to even get to a level-three run, and some dungeon runs are a bit too full of flying minions for my liking.

Now, I'm addicted to getting more coins to upgrade my weapons and armor, while trying to unlock rare loot.

Not only is the gameplay addicting, but the visual effects are mesmerizing, making it easy to spend quite a long time lost in the world of Brim. The world is bright and colorful with lime greens and purples, and the 3D graphics only help bring it all to life.

"Runners can look amazing with all sorts of mesmerizing environments sliding by. There is something very soothing and satisfying about it that just sucks you in," Jensen and Jahn-Mulliner said.

"But not all runners are addicting. It's important that everything works together and that the experience as a whole is complete and synergetic – everything from controls, mechanics, sound, systems, art and animation to progress and rewards – it has to work together in harmony, like a piece of art."

While all these elements come together and work well in a visually appealing and uniquely different runner game, there are some downsides to Blades of Brim. I did struggle with remembering the controls in the beginning, but once I played consistently for some time, my Brim movement became second nature.

Another problem is figuring out which challenges give you which prizes. It took me forever to work out how I could get another pet whistle. And I still don't know some of the monsters' names. There's a lot going on, so it's easy to get lost. Nevertheless, the game is organized in a way that makes it easy to find the shop and personalization menus — you just might have to browse for a bit.

There are times when the beginning of a run feels so slow to me, and there are other times when – to my frustration – I can't even make a run worthwhile. There are also times when I use an essence to revive myself — only to die a second later. But then, these small nuisances appear to be easily resolved with practice and frequent gameplay.

Blades of Brim has been selected as an Editor's Choice in the App Store, and with its success on iOS, SYBO Games just announced that Blades of Brim will be coming to Android, though the release date is not yet known.

"You know, when you make a game it's this intense joyride of incredible fun and scary moments, so let's just say that the Android version is coming just as soon as our feet touch the ground," Jensen and Jahn-Mulliner said. "When that happens, we want to bring more to all playable platforms."

This endless runner-meets-RPG mobile game is free to play with in-app purchases.

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