fear-less1.pngDazzled by the eye-catching color palette and beautiful pixel art of Fear Less: Escape the Nightmare, I decided to give what I assumed to be another endless running game a try. Over an hour later, I was still running, jumping, slicing, and upgrading--and loving it. Fear Less has a delightfully rich design for a game that uses only two buttons (Z to jump and X to use your sword). You could say that Fear Less is an upgrade-based endless runner for people who generally don't like those kind of games. In fact, the term "endless runner" is really a misnomer for this game; there is an ending, but you'll need to master the controls and buy all of the upgrades to reach it.

In Fear Less, you control a young girl who has recurring nightmares in which Death chases her through a forest filled with cute but deadly critters. Each play session is a dream, and when Death catches up to you and impales you on its dark scythe, you wake up. As you are pursued, you'll have to leap over obstacles like mushrooms, gravestones, jets of flame, flying skulls, and cute little bunnies. The forest is an amalgamation of the girl's loves (flowers, animals) and fears (death and its symbols).

Anthropomorphic foxes, wolves, and bears happily slash you as you pass. However, you can use your sword to fight back against them. Attacking with your sword plays a little bit like a golf game: When you are approaching a foe, a sword-shaped meter appears and you must hit X to stop the indicator that's sliding back and forth across it. If you stop the line in the red zone, you have locked in a successful attack, which will be carried out when you pass your adversary. It can take a couple of plays to get used to this particular mechanic, but it quickly becomes second nature and makes the game into a neat focus-splitting challenge.

As you outrun, avoid, and fight, you also need to collect coins. In between nightmares, you can use them to upgrade your healing, jumping, and attacking abilities. The effects of the upgrades are instantly noticeable and even game-changing. For instance, when you purchase the double jump, and again when you get the triple jump, entirely new tactical possibilities arise. There are also medals to earn for managing various achievements, but these are just for fun (and winning one can be quite a surprise).

The final component that makes Fear Less such an engaging experience is the music, which runs from quiet and contemplative to the kind of jammin' chiptune that would make a great soundtrack for a fast drive (or run).

Fear Less is the first game from innomin (Greg Lane) and atpalicis (Anna Oliver) and is an auspicious debut from this new development team. You can play Fear Less in your browser.

(via Free Indie Games)