Inside each of us is a struggle between good and evil that cannot be resolved. Jool, an endless runner/platforming hybrid for iOS, attempts to turn humankind’s moral conflict into a game, and the final result is baffling, to say the least. But then, our internal battles are kind of weird and disturbing, so Jool’s car-crash of bright colors and non sequiturs makes sense in its own twisted way.
You play through Jool as a rubbery bird that keeps its devilish alter-ego in its butt. The bird continually runs from left to right and uses a jump and a double-jump to navigate treacherous platforms. While he runs, he accumulates points by collecting an odd assortment of items, including triangular jewels that look like Doritos. Grabbing one of several power-ups can boost your score, like a Yoda-looking fellow that will draw all nearby items towards you, or a gold nugget that turns all platforms to gold for a short while and grants you points for merely stepping on them.
When you inevitably mess up the timing on a jump and plunge into the abyss, you can turn your iOS device 180 degrees and resume your point-collecting bonanza as the bird’s alter-ego—the devil. You’re granted a few free ego-switches when you begin playing the game, but when they’re gone, you must buy more with your cache of magical Doritos. Otherwise, a slip and fall will send you plummeting to a bloody death. Despite its cute graphics, there are many ways to die in Jool. You can buy all the death animations for 99 cents, which is an interesting way of pitching in-app purchases (provided the player has the stomach for them).
The ego-swap mechanic driving Jool is admittedly a neat variation on the thoroughly explored endless runner genre. However, it feels like the feature isn’t used as creatively as it could be. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing as the bird or the devil; the challenges are largely the same between the two, and those challenges don’t go far beyond running and jumping across flat planes in heaven and hell.
Jool is a conflicting little game. It’s basic, but it’s also charmingly odd. It has a way of growing on you. Give it a try, and if a little shoulder-angel tells you to stop playing and do your homework, just give him a good flick with your thumb and forefinger.