App your phone: You won’t be starved for entertainment with Feast or Famine

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Feast or Famine, a high-energy running game in which you play a Neolithic caveman, is all about style and substance, providing players with a gorgeous backdrop and hours of gameplay.

From the get-go, players are on the hunt. Starting with only a spear, they must use their reflexes to run down and collect meat from stampeding bison and overhead fowl with a well-placed throw. If players are not successful in their hunt, their caveman cannot eat. That means game over. As if the constant threat of starvation weren’t enough, all this has to be done while traversing the dangerous landscapes of ancient jungles and vast plains.

As players move from level to level chasing their prey, they encounter treacherous threats — from prickly plants to raging beasts. Players can also collect other ancient weapons, such as a boomerang and, yes, even a rock. Each of these weapons comes with different features to help players with their hunting tactics. The boomerang, for example, is especially useful, because it comes flying back for a double strike. If the challenge still seems too great, players can also cash in bone tokens that they have collected throughout levels for technological advantages to combat natural selection. However, with the seemingly random fluctuation of difficulty from level to level, the need for these tokens is minimal. A difficult stretch can often be overcome after a few more attempts.

The shining point of Feast or Famine is its handmade cave-painting art style. Its vibrant colours and soft brushwork lend depth and beauty to the game’s look and feel. Each level has its own tone and thematic content, giving it a fresh feel despite repetitive gameplay. Combined with the game’s energetic tribal beats and the rich array of environmental sounds that make up the soundtrack, Feast or Famine provides a compelling audiovisual world in which to hunt.

Competing in the mobile game market is tough, but Feast or Famine has been able to distinguish itself with its great style. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have any other real hooks when it comes to gameplay. Its combination of platforming and spear-chucking mechanics are somewhat novel compared to other running games, and the thematic context adds character, but there just isn’t enough depth or variety to separate it from other games of its ilk, such as Canabalt or Jetpack Joyride.

Feast or Famine’s developer, X4 Games, is still new, and the company’s energy seems to be focused on fleshing out this goofy stone-aged world with the promise of more levels and themes to come.

Criticism aside, with over 40 levels and more coming, Feast or Famine provides hours of gameplay for only a buck, meaning even those who want to just give it a try will not feel cheated. To check it out, head to the App Store where Feast or Famine is available for your iPhone and iPad mobile devices.

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