The Best Auto-Runner Games (That Aren't Endless Runners)

They're not necessarily about high scores, but still have automatic running.

PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

The term endless runner has become a source of confusion when describing games. Endless runner games are ones where you are going for the high score or longest time, versus a game where it can be of many different genres, but with the key aspect being that your character moves automatically by default. These games wind up working really well on touchscreens because eliminating movement solves a lot of problems with controls. 

01
of 10

Punch Quest

Punch Quest
Rocketcat Games

What We Like

  • Unlockables and alternate paths provide plenty of replay.

  • Creative enemies including raptors with laser beams.

What We Don't Like

  • Too few boss fights.

  • Touch controls may be frustrating.

In this fantastic mobile game, you control a punching warrior that can be customized to your liking with all sorts of skin colors, hairstyles, and clothing. You run through dungeons trying to get as long of a combo as possible, punching skeletons, bats, wizards, and more. You get all sorts of upgrades and special powers that you can unlock, including amazing mega-combo abilities. There are all sorts of great things that you can do, with blocking and multiple punch attacks making for unique combat, while you run ever forward.

02
of 10

Rayman Fiesta Run

Rayman Fiesta Run
Ubisoft

What We Like

  • Clever level designs.

  • Pleasantly quirky visual style.

What We Don't Like

  • Uneven difficulty spikes.

  • Not as fun as the similar "Rayman Legends" for Wii U.

The Rayman series never really deserved to exist based solely on the original entry in the series. It was a flawed platformer that wasn't a whole lot of fun, but when it was the only game you had on your Jaguar, Sega Saturn, or GBA at launch it sure was worth it. Thankfully, Ubisoft has made Rayman a worthy part of gaming, and that includes mobile. Rayman Fiesta Run is a platformer with some fun wall-jumping, enemy punching, and musical sections, all where Rayman runs at his own pace. The game does a great job at being a fun platformer regardless of the character's origins in the 1990s. It's a fun character in a challenging yet accessible game. Rayman Adventures may be more your speed if you prefer free-to-play games.

03
of 10

Wind-Up Knight 2

Wind-Up Knight 2
Robot Invader

What We Like

  • Charming medieval fantasy setting.

  • Entertaining cast of side characters.

What We Don't Like

  • Relentlessly difficult at times.

  • Rather pricey for a mobile game.

This is quite the fun auto-running platformer. The game has some action elements, fun wall-jumping, secrets to find, and even a satirical story that pokes fun at social media and traditional princess stories. Plus, if you love games with controller support, you'll be glad to know this was tested with a comical number of controllers, though it does work well with the touchscreen too.

04
of 10

Platform Panic

Platform Panic

Nitrome

What We Like

  • Smooth touch controls.

  • Requires an equal amount of strategy and quick reflexes.

What We Don't Like

  • Level progression is random.

  • Heroes lack distinct play styles.

Nitrome are the purveyors of some of the finest pixel art games you can get on mobile. But this might be their finest game, a platformer where you have to make it from room to room, avoiding enemies and deadly traps. The game also manages to do a great job at being retro-inspired in two ways. One is that the characters are thinly-veiled riffs on classic characters. The other is that the general style of the game looks like something that wouldn't be out of place in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, particularly the Game Gear. 

05
of 10

Duet

Duet
Kumobius

What We Like

  • Ideal for playing in short spurts.

  • Generous difficulty curve.

What We Don't Like

  • Mobile version isn't as good as the original PC version.

  • The zen soundtrack doesn't match the fast pace.

Kumobius' game is kind of amorphous as far as genre goes, but why not an auto-runner? You do move automatically, and you dodge hazards. It just happens to be in a very abstract way, as you control two balls swiveling around a center pivot point. The game has a serene soundtrack, and narration that adds a nice flavor to the game. There is an endless mode, but the meat of the game is the difficult level-based mode, with the even more difficult challenges of trying to complete levels in a certain number of taps.

06
of 10

Badland

Badland
Frogmind

What We Like

  • Frequently introduces novel challenges and gameplay mechanics.

  • Beautifully detailed level backgrounds.

What We Don't Like

  • Beating the later levels requires a lot of luck, trial, and error.

  • The auto-scrolling screen may become your greatest enemy.

It's not quite an auto-runner platformer, as it's more "auto-progressing" and you flip around to dodge hazards. But the gameplay of where you try to protect as much of your flock of shadowy forest dwellers through levels full of things that will kill them is full of surprises and challenges. It's a great game, and it's got features galore: multiplayer mode, controller support, Android TV support, cloud saves, and even level editing and sharing, much like Super Mario Maker. If you haven't played this, why not? It is free to try.

07
of 10

Fotonica

Fotonica

Santa Ragione

What We Like

  • Innovative visual style with an exciting soundtrack.

  • Each mode features its own unique levels.

What We Don't Like

  • Might be too difficult for casual gamers.

  • No option to sync progress across multiple devices.

Imagine a 2D platformer. Now put it in 3D, and in the first-person perspective. Throw in a stylistic wireframe look and a tremendous sense of speed. It makes for an original experience, and a difficult one. The Arcade mode's levels challenge you to not only make it to the end of the level but to also find the best path with the pickups you get. Endless and same-device multiplayer modes help round out the experience.

08
of 10

Geometry Dash

Geometry Dash
RobTop Games

What We Like

  • Extensive character customization.

  • Outstanding original sound design for each level.

What We Don't Like

  • Free version bombards players with ads.

  • Too few levels made by the developers.

This auto-running platformer in the 'impossible game' style has taken off in particular thanks in part to its level creation and sharing. An infinite number of dastardly levels are at your disposal, created by some of the most clever kids and teenagers that make up this game's core audience. Good luck: their underdeveloped empathy will make you want to throw your phone to the ground.

09
of 10

King of Thieves

King of Thieves
ZeptoLab

What We Like

  • An endless number of dungeons to plunder.

  • Interesting blend of mobile genres.

What We Don't Like

  • Many player-designed levels are absurdly difficult.

  • Frustrating free-to-play mechanics.

Wall-jumping and auto-running on single screens through clever trap-filled levels would be a fun enough concept. But ZeptoLab threw a fun twist in by adding a Clash of Clans-esque raiding-strategy element. You can make your own levels, provided you can complete them yourself. If you go through other players' levels, you can get their treasure and ascend the ranks even further for yourself. The multiplayer twist is engaging and makes this a standout auto-runner. 

10
of 10

Vector

Vector
Nekki

What We Like

  • Cool environments and character animations.

  • Short, fast paced levels.

What We Don't Like

  • Must play levels several times to unlock everything.

  • Life saving power-ups cost real-world money.

Taking inspiration from both seminal endless runner Canabalt and the fluid animations of those famous stickman animations, you control a silhouetted, besuited running man trying to outrun some pursuers. And of course, you pull off all sorts of cool parkour tricks through increasingly difficult levels. It's the closest thing you'll get to Mirror's Edge on mobile.