I’ve long been an advocate for simplicity. I mean, there’s a time and a place for complexity, but why confuse things when you can get away with the basics? I think those at Quack Quack Games – the development team behind CD-RUN – probably think the same. This is a game that oozes utter simplicity – from the visuals to the audio, to the gameplay modes and the idea itself. CD-RUN refuses to mess around.
Sometimes that’s all you need in life. But at the same time, it’s that ideology that holds things back. And that is the case here.
CD-RUN is an endless party runner with a super catchy soundtrack, created for local friends to crack out when the beers get flowing and the fun is looking to ramp up. And in that essence, it works, providing a decently fun time for anything up to eight friends to enjoy in rotation with the numerous other party titles in the market. But without those friends? Well, this falls flat on its face, offering up only a meagre amount of gaming fun for a solo player.
Included in CD-RUN are three different game modes – Round, Score, Distance – but each and every one pretty much plays out like the last. You see, the main objective here is to keep your cute cuboid character on the screen at all times, running, jumping and dashing as the ever-moving side-scrolling levels play out a variety of random ‘tracks’.
Built by a number of blocks, these stages are randomly generated affairs that constantly change as you play, seeing you needing to jump and slide your little character up steps, across chasms and along platforms for as long as possible. Get caught by the ever-encroaching screen, or fall into a bottomless pit, and it’s game over.
With up to eight characters all attempting the same thing, all bumping into each other as they go, CD-RUN fast becomes a bit of a manic affair, with bragging rights, shouts of joy and screams of espionage present throughout. It is here where the game really shines and it can be an utter joy to play through, at least until the lack of variety eventually starts to grate.
You see, there may be three game modes yet there’s really very little to distinguish between them. Distance sees you trying to get the furthest you can, Score crowns a winner once a set number of points is reached, whilst Round adds things up in a leaderboard fashion, proclaiming the winner from the rooftops once a decided number of rounds is met. At the end of the day though, whoever is found staying alive the longest is crowned CD-RUN winner. Before being left to do it all over again.
It’s this lack of variation in the modes that ultimately lets CD-RUN down as it doesn’t take long to get tired of the idea; whilst it is fun for a quick party hit, it doesn’t provide too much more than that. Thankfully the random nature of the levels, and the sporadic inclusion of game changing moments – fast forward speeds up play for a few seconds, slow-motion slows it down, shuffle reverses gravity, repeat keeps the same idea going whilst new tracks utterly change the entire sequence you’re playing through – just about ensure it is a game to consider.
It’s also nice that you can play CD-RUN with bots, across easy, normal and hard difficulties, and with a colour-blind mode implemented. Whilst the addition of these won’t really lengthen the joy found for a solo player – the depths of the AI skill levels are something to behold – being able to throw four, five or more AI characters in alongside human players is a nice touch. This is a game that is sold on the back of ‘the more, the merrier’ and that’s certainly the case.
Drop in a little customisation in how each of the blocky characters look – colour, eye type and mouth can be amended – and you’ve got the basics for an enjoyable game. And that is helped immensely by a really tight, really simple, control scheme that does, for the most part, mean failure is down to the player skill levels.
That doesn’t mean that CD-RUN always feels fair though and there have been a few times when I’ve been left cursing the random nature of the stages and their compliance with the game switching elements – shuffling things when there is a huge chasm or out-of-reach platform can be a right pain – but on the whole it’s a reasonably decent little sit down for a reasonably decent amount of time. You’ll have to also be aware that no matter how much you love your family and like your friends, this is a game that seems to bring out the worst in people – constant espionage by other players happily sitting on your head and stopping you from jumping until the very last second is par for the course here. Or at least it is with my family and friends. Perhaps I need to find new ones.
At the end of the day, CD-RUN on Xbox One is a good, solid entry into the party scene. I just wish there was the opportunity to take things online, and to have more to enjoy in terms of game modes. Although it’s obvious that there is a place for this in the market, that lack of variation will be a severely limiting factor for many. Much like the whole premise, it’s quite simple though – if you’re able to gather up some family, consider CD-RUN as another string to your frantic and fun evening gaming sessions. But if not, this is one that should be left spinning away forevermore.