Review: 10,000,000

I don’t envy the protagonist of 10,000,000. Abandoned and alone in a derelict castle, he passes boarded doors punctuating the empty halls. Doomed to run forever through forgotten corridors, clashing with ancient oak and fabled beast, until the omniscient gaoler deems he has run far enough and well enough to have earned his freedom.

It's the final countdown.

The fiction of a tortured hero doesn’t necessarily fit the reality of this casual time-waster though. Originally a game for the iSeries of expensive phone devices, there’s no running away from the origins of this game. A match-three game (in the style of Bejewelled and Dungeon Raid, a twisted hybrid of the two) at its core, it remains fettered by the design decisions necessary for a game to succeed on the mobile market. Simple enough mechanics make up the game: match three symbols to pass the obstacles you encounter in your constant journey to the right. If the object is some form of monster, match swords and staves to damage and defeat them. If it’s a lock blocking your way, match keys. Backpack blocks provide loot: the direct damage items, skeleton keys and grid-changing items add a little variation to what is a very simple and somewhat repetitive formula.

Absolutely smashing.

As seems necessary for any game released this millennium, there are also a plethora of RPG elements thrown in too. Gaining enough experience from battles to reach a new rank allows certain buildings, upgrades and items to be purchased (with gold received through wholesale murder, as is expected) or built, with the wood and stone you harvested through matching those symbols in your run. From each newly rebuilt room, you can purchase small passive upgrades, be it perks that give 10% more points per run, potions that double the resources you gather or the simple brutal maths of increased damage and critical hit chances. It seems, at the beginning, to be a useful distraction from what is the same game and the same forms of enemies each time. It actually does distract, for a while. Then you’ve been playing it for an hour. Each small upgrade takes dozens of runs to get hold of and makes little difference to the subsequent runs. This is where the fun dies.

This game is a fantastic way to pass five minutes, if you’re (say) standing at a bus-stop or on a break from work. What it is not is a game that can be played for anything past half an hour without a deep fatigue setting in. It is a game best played on a mobile device, not a home PC or a laptop, and releasing it for the PC seems a ill-considered move. I can’t recommend the game for the gaming rig that can power through AAA releases and indie darlings. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad game though: it’s addictive and satisfying in short bursts. Get it on your mobile and play it the way its meant to be played.

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