If you’re privy to the comings and goings of popular iOS App Store games, you’ll no doubt be aware of Crossy Road, an Australian-made endless tapper that is taking the world by storm. Before you read any further, do yourself a favour and quickly go to the app store on your nearest Apple device and start the download. By the time you’re done here, you’ll be able to see what all the fuss is about and join the other 2.5 million downloaders (in the first week alone, I might add), who are already hopelessly hooked on directing their adorable voxel characters across the game world’s many highways, railway tracks, and lily pad-speckled rivers.
Mechanically, the game functions almost identically to 1981’s Frogger, in that the player’s input guides the critters across a series of busy roads, rails, and rivers. The beauty of the experience lies both in its simplicity and its ability to draw out your addictive streak, regardless of how easily addicted you may usually be.
Visually it is simple and pleasing, with a near isometric voxel-style 3D world that is appealing to children and adults alike. The controls are intuitive and play to the strengths of the platform with simple tap and swipe commands that determine the direction in which your on-screen avatar hops.
I’ve been trying to find a few faults in the game, but it’s proving rather difficult at time of writing – and that’s after a week and a half of solid daily play. If I had to comment toward any negatives, it would be in the limited replayability and monotony of the game world – being an endless runner, the world repeats… endlessly. Perhaps if there were some variation in the environment or unlockable locations, it might keep those less easily retained players coming back for a little longer.
Personally, I find the most interesting and well implemented aspect of the whole experience is the way that Crossy Road monetises. As the game is free to download, the developer has chosen to allow players to decide for themselves if they would like to watch a 20-second advert for a reward of 20 in-game coins, rather than force the player to view advertisements or introduce pay-to-win elements. Once gathered, these coins allow the player to unlock new playable characters, some of which change the entire appearance of the game space.
If I had to pick the most outstanding feature of the game experience, it’s in the way that monetisation has been handled – it’s a completely ethical, fair, and positive approach. I can’t think of a time that a free-to-play game has made me want to watch an ad, simply because I knew I was supporting the developer in what little way I could. With that being said, I will note that you can – with emphasis on the ‘can’ – purchase the characters for $1.29 AUD, all of which are (as far as I can tell) also unlockable without any spend.
If you’re looking for that next little time waster to keep you busy on the train to work or on the loo, get your hands on Crossy Road. Even if you do put it down a day or two later, it might just revive what little faith you had left in pick-up-and-put-down mobile game experiences.