Chameleon Run Review - Quick and Short

A speedrun platformer with great quality, but an all-too-brief experience.

Chameleon Run 1
Noodlecake Games/Hyperbolic Magnetism

The speedrun platformer is an interesting genre that has popped up on mobile. Games like Mikey Shorts and Super QuickHook have managed to give gamers the ability to play platformers that not only challenge them to complete their levels once, but to keep going after faster times, and race against their friends' best times for replayability. In the vein of some of these classics, Hyperbolic Magnetism along with publisher Noodlecake Games (who published the aforementioned games on Android), presents Chameleon Run, available on Google Play.

And it's a strong game at its core, but it winds up leaving too little of an impression due to being an incredibly short game.

Chameleon Run has you jumping and switching colors to make it from platform to platform, trying to reach the end of each level. You can only run on platforms where you're the same color as the platform and can get a burst of speed by switching colors right as you reach the ground. There's an interesting infinite-jump system where you can keep jumping if your head is touching the ceiling, as it resets your double jump. And that double jump also gives you two jumps if you just fall off a platform, which you need to use to make longer jumps. Now try to put all these systems together at high speeds. Good luck with that.

Chameleon Run is a really well-constructed game. The game is very challenging but features quick retries to not be too frustrating. The controls are very responsive, which is paramount to this sort of game.

It just feels really good when you manage to string together a great run, you feel like an amazing expert at the game. The production quality is impressive, with a simple look, but visual effects being used in subtle, smart ways. As well, the color scheme is a bit unorthodox but looks really good. There's a whole interesting history to the game where clones had been made and published on Android.

Make no mistakes, this is the game by the original creator of the idea.

What may surprise you is just how short Chameleon Run actually is. The game is 16 levels long, introducing new mechanics every few levels or so, and it's kind of surprising how short this game is. On one hand, I appreciate the game for spending zero time dawdling around. But on the other, it feels like the game is not fully exploring its strengths by just deciding instead to have a few levels focused on each aspect. It feels like the game is just in the tutorial levels, and then it's all over. It's certainly unexpected, and even a 4 or 5 additional levels would provide better spacing, rather than having just 3 or 4 levels between each tutorial.

The mission structure is kind of unique in that you really can't speedrun the levels until you complete the three different objectives: collect all the orbs, all the smoking crystals, and then completing the level without switching color at all. But, you have to complete those first two objectives to be able to do the third, as other parts of the level then open up that make it possible. And each objective starts to place lightning bolts that speed you up. So, to get three stars and the really fast times, you have to complete the level multiple times.

This winds up extending the levels to be longer than they otherwise would be, but it's otherwise a game that you could beat in a sit-down session if you put a couple hours aside.

I will be interested to see if updates come to the game with more levels, because there's definite potential for more challenges, even with the few mechanics that are introduced. Extremely challenging levels, unique interpretations of how to use the abilities, there's a lot that could be done with more levels that aren't already. The game is primarily developed by one guy, so I wouldn't expect new levels right away, but I'm curious to see what could be in store for Chameleon Run.

 

As it is, Chameleon Run is $1.99, looks great, and is well-made, but it feels a bit lacking at the moment. If it intrigues you, pick it up, but I don't find this to be essential.