Sarah's Run (Preview)


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DoraSarah's Run (Preview)Sophie Houlden knows what Unity can do, and she wants to blow your mind with it. Sarah's Run is a short puzzle platformer about a girl named Sarah with some unusual abilities. Although there's no story since the game is an unfinished preview with only ten levels, because the full name is actually "Sarah's Run: Escape from Capital Evil", you can probably anticipate that you are in some sort of unsavory place and you are running to escape from it. Check out how much of a detective I am!

Use [WASD] to move, the mouse to look around, and hold down [shift] to dash. (Note that if you don't like this control scheme, you can press [ESC] to see an alternative one that uses the [arrow] keys, or even use a controller if you have one.) Pressing the [spacebar] lets you jump, and pressing it again in mid-air will make you double-jump for a little extra distance or height. If you've played any platformer within the last ten or fifteen years, that little move probably isn't going to stun you, but Sarah's got one more trick up her sleeve. Press [E] to activate "Super Mode", which makes Sarah glow white and ignore the laws of gravity; until the timer bar at the bottom of the screen runs out, she'll be able to use ramps to run along the walls and ceiling to reach previously inaccessible areas. Once the timer runs out, or if you press [E] again, she'll revert back to normal, and fall back towards whatever the proper orientation of gravity has to be.

Of course, the levels aren't all gravity-defying parkour. To get to the exit, you'll have to find and activate the number of switches required to open any doors you might come across, and figuring out how to get to them requires a bit of thinking. Electricity is something you'll want to steer clear of, since it's instantly fatal; stepping on it will force you to either restart the level, or return to the last checkpoint you activated. Later levels will also introduce you to barriers that disable Sarah's special ability until she can find a trigger to restore herself, moving platforms and treadmills, and more. It's like if theme parks were inherently evil!... hahahahaha, if.

Sarah's Run (Preview)Analysis: Unity is an interesting platform in that it tends to result in different reactions from different people. For gamers, it tends to be greeted with an anticipatory wince whenever the name comes up; the plug-in necessary to play has a bad reputation for being fussy with browsers and freezing up like an eight-year-old at her first ballet recital. As a result, it doesn't really get the positive attention it should. Which is a shame, because as developers like Sophie Houlden have shown us, the platform is capable of some pretty impressive stuff.

Despite being "just" a preview, Sarah's Run offers up not just a nice chunk of gameplay, but a chance for Unity to strut its stuff on the catwalk. The presentation here is simple, clean, and the way the world spins around you as displayed by the depth of the visuals is impressive for a browser game. After a while, however, the pistachio green and tiled surroundings and short trance-techno loop begin to feel repetitive, and the constant swings in perspective which were butter-smooth on my machine might be too much for an older computer to handle.

Controls are simple and responsive, and the gameplay is easy to jump right into. Most of the puzzle aspect comes from figuring out how to use your environment and gravity to get where you need to be, which can involve a lot of experimentation. Whenever I got stuck, I began to default to hurling myself off of random surfaces at different angles, a sort of everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach that, surprisingly, would often result in sweet success. The ten levels here probably won't keep you busy for too long; each stage is relatively short, and because of the way they're designed, there's no way for you to really get lost. You'll always know where to go, all you have to do is figure out how to get there.

Sarah's Run: Escape from Capital Evil is currently on hold while the developer works on another title, but if you're interested in keeping an eye on the product you may want to read the development blog which contains far, far more technical talk than my puny critic brain can comprehend, but is fascinating nonetheless. Since it looks like the finished product will be a pay-to-play affair, you should definitely check out this free preview and cut your teeth on Sophie's work. While it doesn't really break any new ground, it's fun, easy to play, and a fantastic showcase of Unity's capabilities, to say nothing of Sophie's own talents. It'll be interesting to see how the final product looks in comparison, but right now there's still plenty to enjoy.

Play Sarah's Run (Preview)

Thanks to Jordan for sending this one in!

24 Comments

FIRST time I played it my head began to hurt. Second time I played I had to take two tylenol.

If I were epilectic I think it would spin me into a seizure.

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I *am* epileptic, and no problems. In fact, I loved this game, even though I usually shy away from games using Unity. (They usually feel clunky and slow on my machine, but this one was smooth.)

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Stuck on Level 3

So I can't seem to figure out how to press the 2nd button... none of the gravity walls seem to orient the figure anywhere near the button and I don't see any way to reorient gravity. Lost!!

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Unity player, freezing out older systems one game at a time. In most Unity games it just runs slow on my puter, on this one the player just crashes, twice, and I have to close the tab to clear the message. Oh well, time to upgrade my work machine or just try this one at home.

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Fishinear January 4, 2011 6:03 PM

This is a fantastic game, even as try-out. The gravity changing thing is really smart. Level 8 is really a pain, but I loved level 9.

@Rich W: I assume you mean the button on the ceiling. To get there, you need to:

Go back to the little alclove were you can run round onto the ceiling. While still in special mode, jump down from there (that is, towards the ceiling of the room) and run to the button.

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Dr. Curiosity January 4, 2011 8:54 PM

Hooray, "download failed" and then on refreshing, Unity crashed Chrome. Not a good start.

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Okay, home now, and the game still won't work for me. At work I think it was a hardware issue, but this machine at home is more than capable. Maybe it's a browser thing, it won't work in FF so I'm gonna go try in IE.

Nope, no joy in IE either. Seems the Unity player is messed up on my home system. It scrolls up the status bar and then just sits there, nothing happens after that.

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For those having trouble, have you tried installing the latest Unity player?

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@Jay

Sorry for the delayed update but after my earlier woes I went ahead and yanked out the Unity player and re-installed, it works now and I've been playing the game. It would be a nice feature if the player itself told you it needed an update when it did.

[It's supposed to do that. I'll have to revisit my embed code to see if I'm missing something for that. -Jay]

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Great game so far; feels like a mirror's edge and portal crossbreed, which is great because those two games are among my favourites.

I screwed up very badly on level 10. I had hit 3/5 buttons, and then hit the electric...wall? floor? ceiling? - aha! Surface! that's the word! Anyways, I had neglected to hit the checkpoint after each button and when I died, I lost most of my progress.
I'll take a crack at it again tomorrow, provided my head stops spinning.

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PS: Sarah's mouth looks Weeeeeird.

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Great concept, neat execution, learning curve is WAY too steep. First few levels are easy, just learning the basics. Next couple of levels are a little challenging, forcing you to think of gravity in new ways, but not too bad. I kept wishing for a better color scheme, so I could more easily remember which was the floor and which the ceiling, but I still managed. THEN I hit level 8. Twice the time on one level as I spent on the 7 previous put together, and I ended up ragequitting before I smashed my glass.

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Okay, can't seem to get to level 10. I see it, can't figure out how to get to it yet. I know I'll figure it out, probably within seconds of posting this, hence this post.

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Figured out entrance to level 10, finished the game.

So, I really liked the game concept and play, but hated the controls.

Most of us are used to ASDW controls, but adding in a SHIFT key and an E key, as well as SPACE for jump, that got a little clunky. I would have preferred my gravity boots key to be a mouse button, stick with the space bar for jump, and keep E for run lock/unlock. I pretty much just kept the gravity boots on most of the time so that I was in run mode all the time.

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hothotpot Author Profile Page January 5, 2011 10:49 AM

Really great game. I'll have to play it at home since my PC at work is a little sluggish and the flips in perspective are proving to be a little more than it wants to handle. So far my only complaint is lack of a save feature. The game is just long enough that I'd like to be able to take a break and come back to where I left off. Other than that, really great!

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You can press the "esc" key for the menu, and

press the "+" key to switch to a third robotic skin!

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A truly wonderful game. I see "Portal" in it too.

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Pandragon Author Profile Page January 6, 2011 5:30 AM

the reviews for games from Kongregate always seem to receive warm welcome. THis one is no exception, very well done!
However, just running around doesn't cut it for me! I need some shooting enemies and pvp multiplayer stuff haha

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Seemed like a pretty fun game, but I found it did not register many of my space bar jumps, especially when double jumping. Also, a little unsettling the way the camera swirls about so much with the mouse, maybe a little less sensitivity there? And is my cursor supposed to disappear forever so that I need to kill my browser to get my pointer back? These little details kept me from going much beyond level 3. But it looked really good and I was having fun until then!

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Wow, this is amazing! I love games that have a sort of M.C. Escher logic but still make sense. It forces you to rethink your surroundings and its physics. I just wish there was better camera control. Laptop trackpads are not the most convenient things for this.

@Guest: You can pause the game with Esc and you'll get your cursor back.

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@Guest: You can tweak sensitivity in the menu. Also, if it's not registering your second jump, you might be running off the edge before you can jump, so you're using your midair jump when you think you've jumped from the ground. Try jumping a little earlier.

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Rats. My computer is from 2006 so I doubt I can join in the fun.
Some day I'll have a rockin' 2008 Dell and join you in the future.

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I think that @username is right in some suggestions about the gameplay (the "lock/unlock" dash button is a good idea, but I prefer using the mouse button to jump), but I have a question: why you can't move the camera up and down with the right analog stick? And why you can't move your character with the digital pad too? my left analog stick is very buggy, and it bothers me.

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First, this game is great.

Second, maybe I'm slow, but I have no idea how to reach level 10.

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