The title refers the goal. Score 10,000,000 cumulative points and you win your freedom – freedom from the four-storey, stone-walled dungeon home in which you sleep, work out and craft weapons. There are worse existences, for sure, but your hero seems determined for a change nonetheless, and it’s your task to help him earn liberty.
Huge wooden double doors in the basement open out into the stomping grounds where you amass these crucial points. It’s here you find the meat of the design, something I’d awkwardly describe as an ‘Endless Match-Threer’, combining, as it does, Canabalt’s endless runner method of scoring (where meters traveled convert to points), and Bejewelled’s symbol-matching puzzle dynamic.
At the top of the screen you view your 8-bit hero moving through the dungeon, left to right. After a few steps he’ll comes across a monster that must be defeated by matching three or more ‘sword’ or ‘magical staff’ icons in the play area at the bottom of the screen. Happen upon a locked door or a treasure chest, and you’ll need to focus on matching ‘key’ icons instead and so on, adjusting your strategy depending on what barrier your hero is banging his head against at the time.
Collecting stone or wood icons has no bearing on your hero’s immediate progress, but these can be spent upgrading your weapons and equipment and opening up new rooms back at your dungeon home in between quests. This creates a slightly weird dynamic where you’re carrying out home improvements on the place you’re trying to escape from – but then again, perhaps it’s commentary on the middle class paradox of modern living.
You ‘run’ under the eye of the clock, adding more seconds to the total by combining four or more icons on the play board, a mechanic that lends a frenzied edge to the icon matching while the meta-RPG stuff gives you a sense of progress beyond merely watching numbers go up (although, when you get down to it, character development in games is almost nothing BUT numbers going up).
It’s a smart game that combines a bunch of familiar influences (there’s more than a shade of Dungeon Raid) into something unusual, enchanting. You probably thought you’d seen enough endless runners to last till the next Olympics not to mention enough match three puzzlers to last till ARMAGEDDON ITSELF, but in 10000000’s purposeful machinery, there’s good reason to let both into your heart and home again.
Pick up your sword and shield at the App Store here.