Yes, it is the year 2021 and there is a new side-scrolling auto-runner mobile game that has somehow captured my full attention. It’s so funny because mobile gaming is finally getting to the age that genres that were done to death in the past and then disappeared when their particular fad died down are all of a sudden feeling new and fresh again. I am NOT mad at it. And to be fair the game in question, Blon from developer Lazy Kiwi, does do some extremely cool things to set it apart from your average auto-runner, as well as give it a bit of modern flair.
That modern flair comes in the form of… wait for it… roguelike elements! Just picture Oprah pointing all over going “YOU are a roguelike, and YOU are a roguelike, and YOU are a roguelike!” We’re in a time when that descriptor has almost lost all meaning as it can be shaped and shifted around to fit pretty much any type of game. You heard it here first, PONG is a roguelike. In the case of Blon these roguelike elements refer to a progression loop that sees your collected resources being spent on a variety of cool upgrades and abilities in between runs that open up new strategies and allow you to get just a bit further the next time you play. Think of something like Dead Cells, but scaled back.
And you know what? It totally works. Traditionally there have been two main types of runners: Endless and level-based. Endless I always find that I’ll have one MONSTROUS run that I could never possibly duplicate again, so I lose interest in playing. Level-based is fine but once you’ve mastered each level there’s not a lot of incentive to go back. Adding in a progression system as Blon has done fixes both those problems. The levels are pre-designed, but they’re LONG, and not really meant to just be beaten your first try. It feels like an endless runner getting a little further along each run, but eventually you will find its end.
While you’re focusing on learning each level’s layout and practiicing your timing in order to beat it, you’re also upgrading a whole mess of stuff in various skill trees, so it feels like you’re always making progress no matter how good or bad you do each time. And once you do beat a full level, which entails multiple boss fights I should add, you’ll unlock the Arcade version of that level which truly is an endless mode. It’s like Blon took all the good aspects about different kinds of runners and combined them into one single game. A game that’s free, no less, with a single one-time full game unlock IAP. And I didn’t even get into the multiple playable characters, weapons and armor, environmental effects… this really is the ultimate side-scrolling runner, so if you like this genre even a little bit you owe it to yourself to try out Blon for free on iOS, Android, or PC.