Netflix targets video game fans this week with the launch of Netflix Infinite Runner, an autoscrolling platformer featuring characters from the original series Narcos, Marco Polo, Orange is the New Black, and Stranger Things.
The first of a presumed series of “Netflix Original Games,” Netflix Infinite Runner harkens back to the glory days of amateur Newgrounds flash animations, offering poorly drawn visuals paired with insipid gameplay. Fans of the featured series may want to give the game a brief look out of morbid curiosity, but its terrible mechanics discourage prolonged exposure.
Netflix has found success in recent months with its broad lineup of original episodic shows, including the women’s prison-themed Orange is the New Black and the horror sci-fi throwback Stranger Things. The approach serves as a cost-cutting measure that saves Netflix the cost of licensing feature films and television shows while drawing in new fans in search of original content.
Netflix Infinite Runner features settings and background music themed to each playable character. Players can take control of Narcos‘ drug kingpin Pablo Escobar as they run through the jungles of Columbia, or charge through a prison setting as Orange is the New Black‘s Piper Chapman while avoiding flying lunch trays and deadly plastic drinking cups.
Gameplay in Netflix Infinite Runner very quickly unravels as the lack of thought put into its level design soon becomes apparent. Obstacles appear randomly and players will have to grapple with unforgiving hitboxes as they attempt to survive for more than a few seconds of play. Levels also frequently place obstacles in close proximity to one another, making it impossible to avoid game-ending collisions in many cases.
In its defense, Netflix claims that Netflix Infinite Runner is only being promoted via its Spanish and Indian social media accounts.