Hang Line is a neat mobile game that really wants you to check out this ad


Get a grip

One of these days, I’m going to push myself to find out just how much money free-to-play mobile games make off of ad views.

Because in the years that I’ve owned a smartphone and tablet and have gamed actively on them, I’ve spent a total of $1 on in-app purchases. It was last month in Animal Crossing Pocket Camp:I spent a buck to buy supplies so I could complete the December fishing tournament, scoring an ice sculpture for my Japanese/eternal-winter themed campground. If something is offered to me for free, I genuinely don’t ever see a reason to spend real money on it, even if it’s a game I’ve spent the better part of two years playing every day.

I don’t spend money, but I do love me some ads. And with Hang Line, the new mobile game from developer Ed Kay, a game designer who worked on titles such as Bulletstorm and Call of Cthulhu, I’ve watched a lot of ads. I’ve watched ads to temporarily unlock tools, to give me a continue after I fell down the mountain, and to double the number of coins I earn in game. There are a lot of ads in Hang Line, but the simply satisfying gameplay makes them well worth watching.

Hang Line is grappling-hook powered mountain climbing game where you control a rescuer trying to save people trapped across a variety of different mountains. You actually don’t control the character directly but rather their grappling hook. Press a part of the mountain they can grapple onto and, so long as there is nothing blocking their path, they’ll latch on with ease. The challenge in the game lies in what happens after you do latch on. The game’s physics will propel the climber upwards quite quickly depending on how long the hook line is. With a variety of obstacles to avoid, including goats, mountain lions, and boxes of explosives scattered across these peaks, successfully reaching the top of each summit requires fast reflexes and being fully aware of your surroundings.

Each mountain is made up of small, hand-made levels, each consisting of either stranded survivors to rescue or artifacts to recover. When you successfully rescue a person and make to the top of that particular level, you earn coins you can spend to open up more levels for each mountain. Rescued survivors also generate coins every couple of hours, which are necessary because levels get more expensive to unlock the further into the game you get.

Making it to the top of each hand-crafted level can be tricky with all the different ways you can fail, but there are tools you can get to help you up. The radar points you in the direction of the nearest survivor or artifact, the thruster can get you back on the mountain if you fall off, and the grip-hook is a supped-up grappling-hook that’ll negate the effects of animals, explosion, or the often cumbersome waterfalls. Unfortunately, these power-ups are not free and the only way to get them is to either pay up or watch an ad, though both options have their own limitations.

If you do like I do and choose to watch an ad, you get access to your choice of a single power-up for a stage. There are a limited number of times you can choose this ad experience before you’re put on a timer. That doesn’t really bother me because Hang Line is absolutely the type of game that’s best enjoyed in those brief moments of downtime people somehow manage to find throughout the day.

Paying to unlock these tools isn’t inexpensive — they’ll set you back just 99 cents — but each purchase only grants you a limited number of uses, either five or six depending on what you buy. For how easy it can be to fall off the mountain, it doesn’t really feel like your money will go that far. You can easily work your way through the uses granted with one purchase on a single mountain. I’m currently working my way up the fifth peak of the game, and for the life of me, I haven’t found the need to spend money on any of these power-ups. In fact, I have yet to face a level where I require the use of something other than the radar, which is well worth sitting through an ad for.

Call it a testament to the solid design of the gameplay, but there doesn’t seem to be an obstacle I can’t tackle using only the base tools provided to me. I’m sure the thruster would have been a godsend on the stage “Stairway to Hell,” but reaching the peak of that level was far more satisfying relying only on my reflexes and knowledge of how the physics work.

With all that said, I truly do wonder just how much money Ed Kay and Yodo1 games are making off my ad views. Because the design of Hang Line isn’t going to push me towards spending actual money anytime soon, but my time is cheap, and if a 30 second ad is the price I have to pay so I don’t have to fully explore every level, looking for survivors, then it’s a price worth paying.