Review — Expander (PC)

This is not going to be a long review, let me get that out of the way right now. Not because there’s laziness on my part, necessarily, but mostly because there’s very little game to actually review here. Expander is a mobile port of the worst variety, a ninety-nine cent endless runner quickly ported onto Steam for no reason other than to make a premium on a different storefront. While the game is by no means poorly executed, there isn’t enough substance for the asking price on PC by a long shot, especially considering the many superior alternatives one can get on Valve’s digital marketplace for the same $2.49 Expander wants from you.

I’m not necessarily saying that the game is poorly executed, by any means. It’s a standard endless runner, utilizing very basic gameplay mechanics to get you hooked on obtaining a higher score before quickly running out of steam and leaving you wanting more depth, ultimately leaving the player with a boring game and a slightly less plump wallet. You simply guide your little colored square through an automatically scrolling corridor and collect coins by stretching your block to different lengths. Since the coins are always on the edges of the corridor, you have to extend to the right length without underestimating or overestimating your size, but the problem comes in the fact that if you only pay attention to getting the farthest distance (which also nets you points, although slower,) the game is nearly impossible to lose. If you keep your cube at the smallest size it can get and occasionally hit the right mouse button to switch from the red layer to the blue layer in order to avoid obstacles, you’ll find that there’s really nothing that the game can do to stop you. Sure, getting the coins can be challenging, and dare I say it, even slightly addicting, but if you’re aiming for a high score, you’ll barely need to life a finger.

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The presentation and overall aesthetic has a sort of minimalist charm, at least, but the plain white background and the simple red and blue color scheme leaves a lot to be desired, with Expander even lacking at least the interesting visual styles that made popular endless runners (like Temple Run and Canabalt) appealing to the eye. There is no variation to the handful of obstacles that might get in your path, and by the end of the first ten minutes of gameplay or so you’ll have seen all there is to see, with very little besides the hope of a high score there to bring the player back. Sure, there’s a Daily Challenge mode, but it’s really just the same basic survival mode as the regular game, with the only difference being that you only have one shot to get the biggest score you can. This lack of challenge and replay value kills any hope Expander had of being taken seriously as both a PC game and an endless runner, and it’s honestly quite shameful to see such a lackluster mobile title make its way onto Steam.

That’s really all there is to go over, in all honesty. There are no small details to run over, nothing that deepens the experience, I can’t even compare the improvements made from the original mobile version because it is literally the exact same game shoved onto PC for an extra $1.50. It smells of a cash grab on the part of the developers, and in all honesty, if you really want to play the game, at least get it on a device where you don’t have to sit down at your computer to play it. Endless runners, by their very design, are far more suited to on-the-go gadgets instead of on more widely used consoles. They’re games that you can play for one or two minutes on the toilet, or for another five on the bus, but they work on mobile phones because they don’t require a time investment. You don’t really notice how shallow the games are on iPhones because you’re not giving them your full attention anyways, but when you boot up a game from your Steam library you are usually doing so with the intent of actually playing a title for an extended period of time, and Expander fails at doing anything worth your time and money.

Published by Sebastian Fisher

Sebastian Fisher is a brash man with a lot of controversial opinions that he likes to shout about on the internet. But you a lovable kind of way.