When animal-rights activists find out about this game, their hair will be on fire, too. In Burning Run, woodland creatures on a hot summer day can’t stand the heat, so they burst into flame and run around frantically. Your goal is to douse them with water and keep them cool– a good-natured game mechanic that is thoroughly refreshing.
Burning Run plays like a combination of Fruit Ninja and tap-to-shoot hunting games, but your goal is to protect the animals, not harm them. On each of the game’s 28 levels, adorable (and well-animated) animals will wander onto the screen before igniting in the hot sun. Your “weapons” are a water bucket with unlimited liquid, which you swipe on the screen to splash, and a series of water balloons, super soakers, sprinklers, and other tools, which you tap to activate.
Most traumatic safari ever.
Since your squirt gun ammo is limited, you’ll have to spend a lot of time swiping the screen to put out fires. For smaller, quicker enemies like rabbits, owls, and squirrels, this isn’t much of a problem. But larger animals, like elephants and bears, or evasive animals like moles and turtles, require you to carefully choose when and where to shoot your water guns.
Each round lasts just a few minutes, and includes a few hectic “waves” of critters, like in Plants vs Zombies. Critters will drop gold acorns and bonus supplies as you douse them, which you can pick up with a tap or swipe. Between rounds, you can use the golden acorns to increase the power and starting ammo of your weapons, but your excess ammo doesn’t carry over to the next stage.
The mirage power-up is a cruel distraction that provides no actual relief.
You can also choose to pay real money to upgrade your weapons and ammo faster, but we didn’t, and we still enjoyed Burning Run a lot. The unlock rate feels perfectly balanced, and you’ll be able to focus on the weapons that you like best. If you feel anything is underpowered, you can replay earlier levels for more gold, but we didn’t have to do that.
Once you beat all 28 levels, which are fairly similar despite the extra critters that appear, you can replay the game on hard mode, with yet another hidden hard mode available after that. You can also go for a high score in survival mode, but since you carry over your ammo from the main game, survival mode will be easier if you’ve unlocked more upgrades. Game Center support is included, but only achievements seem to be saved.
Burning Run is a winner because it combines a popular gameplay mechanic– Fruit Ninja-style slashing– with a completely original concept. It builds on that concept with non-violent target shooting, an addictive upgrade system, and adorable graphics and animation. Seeing animals on fire is distressing, but saving them with an arsenal of water weapons is an absolute blast.