In Hunger Games: Girl on Fire, you play as Katniss Everdeen, a plucky 16-year-old girl who just so happens to be an incredible shot with a bow and arrow. Readers of the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy will be familiar with her, as will the rest of the world when the first movie hits theaters tomorrow. Girl on Fire is being billed as a ‘teaser game’ for the film, and that’s a good description of it. Like a teaser trailer, the game leaves you wanting more.
The game gives you control of Katniss as she sneaks outside the gates of her district to go hunting. But before she can scare up any food, she’s attacked by swarms of tracker jackers, which are giant bioengineered wasps that can use force fields and shoot lasers. Katniss runs automatically, so your primary concerns are to avoid being hit and to tap enemies to shoot them with arrows.
Run, Katniss, run!
One thing that sets Girl on Fire apart from other auto-runners is that there are two tiers of ground to run on. So if a projectile is sailing toward you on the bottom tier, you can swipe to leap to higher ground to avoid it. The game isn’t shy about filling the corners of the screen with enemies, so you’ll end up doing a lot of quick tapping and swiping if you want to succeed. For the most part, the controls do a fine job of letting you handle the chaos, although on occasion we would end up jumping when we meant to shoot and vice versa.
A control hiccup here and there isn’t a big deal, because for most of the game one hit doesn’t kill you. Taking damage darkens the screen, and if you get hit again before it goes back to normal you’re dead for real. This bit of leeway is much needed in a game like this, which would otherwise probably be more frustrating than fun. Once you reach the end of the forest, however, you end up in a boss stage that’s nearly as heart-pounding as Infinity Blade.
Hopping trains like a hobo.
Of course, in all other respects this is a far cry from Infinity Blade. There’s not much depth here, but for a free app there doesn’t need to be. What’s important is that it’s fun while it lasts– and it is. When you’re done with the game, you can visit the ‘Extras’ screen, where you can buy movie tickets, watch the trailer, download a ringtone, visit the website, and generally do anything else the marketers of the movie hope you’ll want to do.
As long as you don’t come to it expecting anything more than a quick romp through the wilderness of Panem, Girl on Fire is definitely worth playing.