By Ronald Gordon
I used to enjoy running. I loved running fast and dashing around obstacles in my younger years, before the pandemic shut me and everyone else in their homes, making me adapt to an indoor lifestyle. Now that I’m free to roam around more, I want to improve myself physically, and I needed something to pull me back into it. For the longest time nothing could motivate me to do so – until Run Legends came along to give me the extra push I was looking for.
Run Legends, a new entry that will be a strong part of the history of fitness games, is a mobile app in which you have to run or walk really fast. It’s created by Talofa Games, an indie company comprised of passionate developers who want to get people out and moving. The game’s story? In a world threatened by Sappers who are fueled by the vital energies of everyday people, a group of specialized agents named Runnegades (the devs like puns and humor) do their best to fight back in any way they can. As a new recruit, it’s time for you to make the most of this warm weather and fight evil through fitness.
Sappers come in all shapes and sizes. From the Critical Grandma who’s always got something to say about your life choices, to the Alpha Chad who wants nothing more than to make you feel weak for not going to the gym everyday, there’s always a Sapper trying to bring you down. But now you have a way of fighting them off, a way to take back control of your life. With the help of Runnegade HQ, you can gear up and take on missions to fight against Sappers and their negative energy, showing them that anything can be accomplished with the power of self worth and fitness.
Run Legends is a fairly simple game: You set up a profile and then jump into an introductory session to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the game. One of the most important things in the tutorial segments is the setting of your Baseline Pace, which the game uses to judge what activates your fast skill, such as an attack, and what activates your slow skill, which is mostly defense. These two skills are your bread and butter throughout the game and can be swapped out with different bits of gear to weapons like the Super Syphon, which drains the enemy of energy that you can use to either attack or heal, or a Discharge blast that can be charged up to do lots of damage against an enemy.
There isn’t much to the game in the way of art or graphics, but the app does have a nice stylized look of thick-outlined characters with shape-oriented bodies. And it’s got great sound design: the music is simple but upbeat, and it changes depending on what sort of battle you take part in. Ultimately, I did wish for more in the way of background design and sound effects. But this is a mobile game designed to foster fitness. Your attention, the game makers believe, should be on how you’re moving during the mission and not the pictures on your phone.
Playing the pre-release of Run Legends has been more of a personal journey than I initially expected. I’m not exactly the most active person. I’m physically fit, but I rely on my genes to help me keep the fat off. Recently, I’ve been wanting to get out of my chair and into the wild somehow, so I set up a personal goal this year to stop spending as much time behind closed doors and instead improve myself where I can. And while I don’t usually pay much attention to other people’s opinions, I can get distracted by the feeling of eyes on me. A demanding game that keeps me focused is exactly what I need. The missions of Run Legends require your undivided attention – you can’t even pause the game, for the most part – so I don’t have time to be self-conscious as I battle Sappers and complete my Runnegade missions. I’ve been making it a habit to try to get a run in every morning, because I want to keep gaining more and more from the missions. If you’re also looking for motivation to get healthy with a fitness app that does more than just track your steps, Run Legends might be your latest must-have. You might even start enjoying Critical Grandma, too.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle Member & Mentor. He was the first of our writers – or any intern anywhere – to complete an internship at Rockstar Games.