By Patrick Shaw | 01-03-2013 | 6:00PM

Since the release of Adam Saltsman’s immensely-popular indie project, Canabalt, the “free-runner” genre has exploded in the mobile space with games employing similar gameplay mechanics like Jetpack Joyride, Robot Unicorn Attack and Tiny Wings to name a few. But in 2012, another far lesser-known title emerged that also deserves to be regarded as one of the finest free-running games out there: Polara.

Developed by Hope This Works Games, Polara puts players in the role of Lara, a special agent from the future who must survive in an imaginative cyberpunk world rife with all sorts of things that can kill her. Just like other free-running games, players are continuously moving forward (which is why these games are also referred to as "auto-runners" and "endless-runners") and must do their best to avoid the city’s numerous deathtraps for as long as possible.

However, what sets Polara apart from other games of its kind is its vibrant Blade Runner-esque art direction and its fully-realized sci-fi storyline and universe. It also puts a few notable twists on the free-running formula. For instance, the player frequently encounters color-coded obstacles and challenges, which they can overcome by possessing lightning-fast reflexes as they switch the polarity of Lara's armored exoskeleton between red and blue.

The game offers a considerably deeper experience than your average free-runner, too. Its campaign boasts 50 different levels, which keeps things interesting with boss battles, a profusion of unlockable modes and a narrative that unfolds as you progress in the game.
 
NVision’s Ryan Scott recently praised Polara as “a shining example of how to do it right” when it comes to creating an immersive gaming experience built around free-running. We think you’ll agree with that sentiment after downloading the game from Google Play, where it’s available for just a buck.

Stay tuned for more of NVision's favorite games of 2012!