It’s easy to see why Run Sausage Run! did well on mobile. An endless runner at heart, it uses only one button on the Xbox controller. Holding the B button pulls off a kind of sprint and duck combo, and that’s all you have to defend yourself from a gauntlet of dicing hammers, crabs and guillotines. We can imagine a large number of sausages getting sliced up and flambeed on the daily commute.
But we’re reviewing this on the Xbox, and it raises the obvious question: can it do enough to hold the attention on console? And the answer is not really. Run Sausage Run! is a cautionary tale of how mobile games need more than being airlifted from one platform to another.
Run Sausage Run! is one of the more literal titles that you’ll come across. You are a sausage, and you need to keep running, lest you become sausagemeat. No matter what the game mode, you are going to be doing roughly the same thing: speeding up and slowing down according to the obstacles that appear in front of you.
If a hob appears on the horizon, you’re going to be checking the pilot light to see if it’s going to ignite soon. Then you will run or slow down accordingly. Jellyfish wake up and sting you if you walk rather than run over them, so you’re going to be sprinting over them. And a baby smacks the floor rhythmically with its spade, so you’re going to be waiting for the precise moment to nip past.
As mentioned, there is also a bit of a duck to the sprint, so you can also use that B button to duck beneath low-flying garden swings or spinning blades. But the B button is all you have. There’s no other input to tinker with.
Which is both a boon and a bane. It certainly makes getting to grips with Run Sausage Run! an easy experience. There’s no complexity here: you’re mastering it in the span of minutes. And once you unlock the strategy in overcoming a particular obstacle – and we will be honest, we still haven’t quite worked out how to bypass a crab without dying half the time – then you’re completing levels reflexively, barely thinking about what you are doing.
It’s a bane because it’s a shallow puddle to kick around in. The difficulty ceiling is so low that you might think you’re bunking in Hobbiton. And while Run Sausage Run! makes a game attempt to introduce multiple game modes to mix things up, and has a fair number of obstacles to gradually introduce, it’s not enough. Once you’ve passed your fiftieth swiping cat and hundredth lilypad, it all becomes rote. We struggled to get interested or fire up a single brain cell.
You can play Run Sausage Run! in a few ways, which delays the boredom. There’s a campaign, which is an odd beast, as the levels are actually randomly generated. When we hear the word ‘campaign’, even in an endless runner, we expect the challenges to be the same every time we play, so that we can attempt to practice them. But here the levels are all procedurally generated, and it has the effect of making them bleed into each other.
We preferred the Survival Mode, which has no pretensions about offering discrete, authored levels. You can clearly tell you are on an infinite track, with speed and score ever-increasing. Just pick from the game’s three themes – beach, kitchen and garden – and run full-pelt through it, attempting to beat your previous best score (helpfully annotated on the level).
Better still, though, is the multiplayer mode. This allows four local players to attempt the same track at the same time, and – if you can get that number of players together at once – it makes for an utter farce and loads of fun. It’s by far the best way to play Run Sausage Run!, and we recommend finding a way to play it. Screencheating is great fun, as you can spot upcoming hazards on other screens, and leaping over the diced corpses of your enemies is fulfilling.
Coins are scattered over the levels, often in hazardous places, and it can be worth picking them up. A shop allows you to buy cosmetic skins for your weiner, or change the type of sausage that you are. A packed hot dog carries a shield around with it, while a jumbo wurst is faster but also taller. The achievements do a fantastic job of pushing you to try all of these out.
And in the levels, there are power-ups, although some are power-downs. The headliner is a snowflake that freezes all obstacles for a while, but there are also shrinkers and growers, as well as buns to give you a shield against a single point of damage. They do a swell job of mixing up the simple formula.
Yet we wish it wasn’t quite so simple. While anyone could pick up and play Run Sausage Run! and grasp it immediately, it’s just as easy to lose interest in it. Its simplicity becomes a curse, as the one-button controls and the endlessly repeating obstacles wear you down.
It’s easy to imagine a version of Run Sausage Run! with all the trimmings, with a much greater depth of flavour. But this is just a plain chipolata, no bun, and we wish a little bit more care was taken in preparing it.
You can buy Run Sausage Run! from the Xbox Store
- Easy to pick up
- Gets frantic in places
- Multiplayer is a laff
- Lacks any depth at all
- Feels like a vanilla port of the mobile game
- Campaign levels feel identical to each other
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Purchased by TXH
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 25 November 2022
- Launch price from - £4.99