Every Friday on our blog I’ll feature a game that’s doing something unique, innovative, and truly noteworthy. This isn’t just an app review; it’s an analytical look at a fresh game from the perspective of someone within the game industry.
It’s really hard to make a great game, even harder to make one that’s perfect. That’s all I could think about while playing Yukon Warrior this week. Here’s a really fun game that does a lot to make itself stand out in a sea of clones and uninspired spinoffs, but it doesn’t go all the way. The gameplay is shockingly fun, but ultimately gets a little too stale a little too fast and really leaves me wanting more.
Yukon Warrior is effectively an endless (or at least auto-) runner, but it’s also a lot more than that. Instead of dashing to avoid a giant beast, or just trying to stay on level footing, you’re running into swarms of demonic woodland creatures, massacring everything in sight. Sounds a little crazy, is a little crazy, but also extremely fun. The game rocks the gore pretty well, but you don’t feel so bad for the animals as they try their best to trample, slash, and generally ravage you, eyes glowing red the whole time.
The resemblance is uncanny...
Even if you’re not a fan of demonic animal slaughter, Yukon Warrior is a blast to play. You have multiple attacks, each of which does something a little different to give you a chance against the waves of fauna stampeding towards you. Although the tap/drag/hold mechanics aren’t perfect, given the frenetic pace of the game, they do a pretty good job. They scale difficulty pretty well throughout the levels - adding powerups and upgrades as you reach bigger and badder animals - but ultimately stop too soon. After only 10 levels you reach the Last Stand, an endless showdown to see how long you survive against the undying undead. It’s in this process that the game shows its biggest weaknesses.
You can’t really say that Yukon Warrior doesn’t have depth, in fact there are dozens of upgrades available and each one gives your character a significant advantage over your foes. The problem is, it takes a disproportionately long time to accrue a worthwhile amount of “spirit”, the game’s currency. Coupled with the scant number of levels, this becomes a problem. If everything was spread out over 15 or 20 levels, rather than 10 , the grinding might not feel so… grindy, but even as fun as it is to beat down scores of savage animals, it does eventually get old. After several hours I got to one of the major upgrades - double tomahawks - and was able to effectively beat the game, but it still felt like too little too late. Admittedly, I’ve kept playing even past this point because as I said before, the gameplay itself is really satisfying, I just wish I had a little more to play for. I will say that having a leaderboard through Game Center is huge in letting me track my progress and strive for something (I’m #68 in the world as of this writing!), but it’s still not quite enough.
The developers also made Yukon Warrior as minimalistic as possible, and I’m still not sure if I like this or not. Reducing clutter is always preferable, so on the one hand this is nice. In the same vein though, a barely visible, but still robust menu can help a game quite a bit. The play screen is completely void of anything not related to gameplay, minus a small pause sign in one corner. That’s great, but when you activate the menu, your only options are Resume, Restart, and Wave Select. From Wave Select you can choose the levels, make purchases, and check the leaderboards, but that’s it. No sound options, no way to recall a tutorial or change the controls, no credits, nothing. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, it just feels unnecessarily blank.
Let me reiterate that my biggest complaint about Yukon Warrior is that there isn’t enough, and that’s a pretty good problem to have. RareSloth Games did a really nice job making this game, especially given that it’s their first project, I just would’ve loved to see a little more. It seems that between the UI and level length, the developers went with the less-is-more approach, and while that’s probably better than bogging everything down with fluff, it’s disappointing given how great this game could be with a little more meat to it.