Totem Runner Review

By , on November 7, 2012

Totem Runner
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Gorgeous use of silhouetting and color-themes; gives players the ability to identify tricky situations at high-speed.
  • Touch or tilt based controls.
  • Quickly scaling challenge; gets you right in to the thick of things early on.


  • Accelerometer controls act with 'jerky' responses; thankfully alternate controls are available (if difficult to manipulate).


Yes, Totem Runner is yet another auto-runner, but of the kind that is increasingly coming to dominate the scene - with tight level design, unique gameplay, and beautiful visuals, it's easy to jump in and out at your leisure.

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Credit where due, Totem Runner by Yagoda Productions and Chillingo isn't just a beautiful game, it's a beautiful concept too. Despite joining the throng of auto-runners already available, the primarily passive play style, combined with tightly designed stages, make it a refreshing casual distraction.

We're jumping ahead though, so lets get back to basics. You play as a mystic (with distinctly Mayan overtones) who is braving the darkness sweeping the world. By harnessing the power of life itself you can re-grow the forests that have been destroyed, while also transforming in to either a boar, a bird, or a magical dragon to dodge or plow-through the traps and enemies in your path.

Learning how to play is easy enough - tap and hold one side of the screen to summon plants from the soil; tap and hold the generously sized boar, bird, or dragon buttons and you'll morph in to them, granting new skills while removing your ability to summon plants.

The boar acts as a blunt weapon, charging through enemies and obstacles alike; if you risk a boost of speed, you'll earn more points in lieu of summoning plants. The bird is an agile flier that's controlled by tilting forward or backward; there seem to be some sensitivity issues resulting in jerky movement, but generous checkpoint placement means you'll eventually get things right.

Lastly, the dragon can only be summoned once 50 gems are collected - using the transformation will fly you forward at no risk.

The real challenge of Totem Runner is in finding as many opportunities as possible to become human in order to summon plants. This is harder than it seems as many enemies exploit the height of the mystical man, forcing you to have to dodge via boar or bird. Later stages even force the player to combine the transformations one-after-another in order to beat a complex sequence of traps.

If you're not already burned out on auto-runners, Totem Runner has a lot going for it in terms of visual appeal and novel gameplay to make it worth a purchase. However, with control issues and a safe, passive playstyle, it's easy to let this one slide as well.


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