Loner – The Infinite Meditation Runner

Aug 9, 2017
Arcade
loner

Loner is a unique experience. At first glance, it appears to be nothing more than yet another infinite runner (or, more specifically, an infinite flyer) with a minimal art aesthetic. It’s not until you play it that you really come to appreciate what Loner has to offer. Rather than being an intense test of reflexes, Loner is… relaxing. You’ll find a lot of apps on the marketplace that swear they can help you calm down, but Loner actually does a marvelous job. It’s not perfect, but Loner is an amazingly satisfying way to take the edge off.

In Loner, you fly a plane through a tunnel by angling your thumbs on each side of the tablet. Your only obstacles in the tunnel are the ever-changing holes ahead of you. These range from static slices to shifting doorways and rotating openings in an ever escalating challenge. However, none of this feels all that intimidating, as the game lets you easily restart upon failure, and the pacing is relatively mild. You don’t blaze through the obstacles, but instead, navigate them calmly, adjusting your course ever so slightly. All the while, soothing music plays, and the darkly lit visuals entrance you.

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Loner‘s greatest achievement is how it brilliantly captures its zen tone. There’s no spoken words; instead, you just drift through the stages as your mind unwinds. There’s just enough stimuli in Loner to get you into the experience, but not enough to make it stressful. If you collide with anything, the game simply goes silent and restarts you at the beginning, rather than any jarring “game over”. The emphasis rests on focusing instead of competing. It’s a remarkable example of implementing ideas from meditation into what could otherwise be a fairly standard, if competently executed, infinite runner variant. Which is good, because beyond that, it’s really just okay.

Loner‘s greatest achievement is how it brilliantly captures its zen tone.

The weakest element has to be Loner‘s story, which is inexplicably included despite having next to nothing to do with the main game. Achieving a certain distance earns you pages in a short love story, but it doesn’t click. The problem with the story, besides being wholly tangential at best, is that it’s horribly translated. There are several grammar errors, and even when it is properly translated, it’s pretty cliche. Still, this isn’t what you’re here for, and can be completely ignored.

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Regardless, I never could have imagined a hybrid of the TV show Hole in the Wall and thatgamecompany’s Flower would work, but Loner pulls it off. The combination of a great visual aesthetic, a wonderful audioscape, simple controls, and minimalist meditation all work great. Plus it’s free, so no harm in giving it a try.

Available on iOS and Android.

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Elijah Beahm

Elijah is a man who can't stop talking about games, geeky things, and to the chagrin of his colleagues, horrible puns. He's been working as a game journalist for several years now, and in addition to Appolicious, his other work can be found at Indie Gamer Team on Wordpress and The Unabridged Gamer on YouTube. When not reviewing games, you'll probably find him ranting on Twitter, writing, or replaying Dead Space 2 for the zillionth time.

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