Denzel is 13 years old and running from the police. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the cops thought he was part of the riots that rocked London in 2011.
That’s the concept for Denzel, the new game from developer LabPix Studios. It’s due out this summer on Android and iOS for free, though it does have in-app purchases. It’s a pretty serious subject that the developer explores using … well, endless-runner mechanics.
“The gameplay is a lighthearted 2D endless running game that is set in a 3D world,” LabPix chief operating officer David McGuire told GamesBeat. “There are countless obstacles to jump over or slide under and numerous enemies that will chase Denzel, such as the local bully, police, security guards, dogs and grannies.”
LapPix worked to re-create the streets of London to give authenticity to the innocent Denzel’s desperate attempts to evade law enforcement.
“There is a deeper message at [the game's] core,” said McGuire. “The disenfranchisement of the youth in U.K. toward adults and the fact that the London riots were inevitable. Consequently, innocent youngsters who haven’t quite found themselves got caught up in the mess.”
McGuire claims the gameplay mechanics represent the ever-present pressure that someone like Denzel would feel in this situation.
“We hope the game mechanics will tell the story effectively opposed to using cutscenes,” said McGuire.
I haven’t played it yet, but it seems unlikely that an endless runner can convey a serious message. Still, I’m glad that LabPix is trying.
Apple, on the other hand, might prefer that the company didn’t try. The iPhone company has a history of blocking and removing games that deal with real war (Endgame: Syria) and child labor (Sweatshop HD) from its App Store.
LapPix isn’t interested in making waves.
“We enjoy games with real-world subjects as long as they are tasteful,” said McGuire. “Games that often use real-world subjects can come across as if they sensationalize an issue or even make the issue seem blasé. We don’t condone targeting any race, culture, real government, or corporation.”
That last bit comes directly from Apple’s app submission guidelines, so you know that LabPix is paying attention. Now, the studio just needs to prove it can follow through with a game that has a real message as well as it follows corporate-mandated guidelines.