The “With Friends” series is appealing in many ways. It acts as a simple conduit through which a group of gamers can play bite-sized multiplayer sessions without complicated setup or hoops to jump through. It’s also an inexpensive collection of multiplayer-centric titles that you can switch between easily rather than having to fork over a ton of cash each time.
Words and Hanging With Friends were entertaining in their own right, and now Running with Friends joins the fold. It’s an endless runner that bucks the tradition of new spins on games like Scrabble or Hangman. It’s a new frontier for Zynga, and say what you will about the company, but it looks like they’ve got another hit on their hands.
Running with Friends is a gorgeous, slickly-produced endless runner with loads of attention given to making it as attractive as it can be. Running has a very cheerful look, with a wide selection of adorable avatars, and customization choices to get you started. Of course, with this being an obvious freemium game, you can fork over real-life money to bolster your selection with more options, but you’ll likely want to save those hard-earned dollars for something else. There are still plenty of wacky characters for you to choose from if that’s your thing.
Once you’re outfitted with an appropriate avatar, it’s time to jump in. This is standard endless runner fare, with bonuses, power-ups, and three separate lanes to choose from as you barrel down the screen. Flicking left and right will change lanes, while flicking up will allow you to jump. Sliding down will let you do just that–slide. Obstacles that you need to clear over or under are tackled in this manner, and it’s quite responsive. It’s by-the-book stuff, and nothing to write home about. Where the game truly shines is in its excellent social aspects.
Running with Friends is elegantly transformed from an antiquity that does little to innovate into a social powerhouse by its social tools. Forget taking turns in the real world. The “With Friends” series has it all down pat. There’s something special about the tides turning suddenly in a heated online battle between rivals or even a showdown between strangers facilitated by quick matches. The game’s competitive structure turns what could be a frustrating and cumbersome matchup into something addictive and exciting, especially if you get into some matches with good friends or exceptional trash-talkers. This kind of easy access elevates the game to the likes of Scrabble and Draw Something.
Is Running with Friends perfect? Not in the least. But it’s a fantastic amalgamation of what made the games in the rest of the series so memorable. It’s bright, cheerful, and potentially another moneymaker for Zynga. That might grind your gears, but you should probably still give it a shot.