On Wall Running (Day 22)

“Wall Running” – as the brightest among you may have observed – is the process of running along a wall. In games, this is often done horizontally, often in direct spite of the idea of arbitrary rules like “physics” and “gravity”.

Wall Running is a classic part of games, and like the double-jump or a sense of purpose is something that can only typically exist in the world of gaming.

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It’s basically always the same thing, at least to my knowledge. In the game, run horizontally toward a flat wall and jump at it, then your character will run along it (sometimes you may have to hold the jump button). In games, it’s typically a part of a more complex “parkour” system, so the simple mechanic and controls make perfect sense.

The best of these games layer this with the ability to jump off the wall and “reset” your wall running capacity. For example, some games will gave you 10 steps along a wall before you run out of momentum and fall – in many games (like Overwatch) – the ability to run is reset when you leap off a wall and hit another one, even if you hit it instantly and at a bad angle.

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It’s a simple addition that makes players consider their environment in completely different ways. Suddenly, horizontal walls become new avenues of exploration, rather than what is essentially “wasted” space.

Other games like the Prince of Persia series will mix it up in a few ways, namely by adding traps. Timing wall running jumps is basically like timing in any other jump in gaming, but it complex parkour sequences it can be a lot of fun.

Many games also mark their walls with something to help identify which walls can be used, like in the image above. This is an easy and useful diegetic clue, though for my money it rarely makes any sense (what exactly caused those marks, and why are they always identical?). Not that that really matters, at least to many players. Do you enjoy wall running? Have any favourite examples of where or why? Let me know in the comments!

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