As gamers, we love it when we come across something that exceeds our expectations. Do you ever come across a game that is so compelling that you can’t put down? Do you want another one? Well, Runers is certainly a valiant attempt to fill that spot. In a gaming world so full of choice, for customers, there is a wealth of games to choose from, be it sports games, driving games, first-person shooters, or even more minuscule genres such as puzzle and fighting games.
In this day and age, the well won’t run dry any time soon. There is always something out there for gamers to get their teeth stuck into. On the other side of this great scenario, you have the developers, who are stuck with the task of delivering the best type of product they can possibly create, in an attempt to make their game stand above the rest. Runers would be best described by taking a dungeon-crawler and mashing it together with the 2D top-down Hotline Miami and the run-and-gun arcade favourite, Smash TV. Starting out on the first floor/level, you must clear every room in the dungeon without dying, and move onto the next. Sounds easy, right?
So, with dungeon crawlers being a very wide market with so many titles, how does LGK Games’ Runers fair? While it likely won’t have the same commercial success as the likes of Diablo III or Neverwinter Nights, it can still compete with its compelling, easy to pick up gameplay. From the get-go, you will be drawn into the action. One thing Runers has is variety – the sheer amount of choices and combinations the player has, from the moment the game is booted up, is impressive.
Before playing, you get the option of choosing a Passive Ability. You have the 20 options (19 Available, 1 Locked) to choose from, for example: Blessing of the Genie or the Curse of the Shade. Each option gives you a different bonus stat, be it receiving a random buff every time you take damage (Genie), or sporadically shooting a bullet in a random direction (Shade). Each of these has its pros and cons and it is down to the player to experiment to find out what suits them best.
Selecting a class adds even more to the game. Again, you have 20 different options, whether it is a Bard, Barbarian, Swamp Mummy, etc. Just like the abilities, each class has its own bonus, such as the Corpse Creeper that has the ability to summon 2 zombies that distract enemies and explode in a poison cloud of death. After that you select your starting spell, with 10 to choose from, and then you are set to go. There are countless combinations for players to test out. With some choices, I struggled to make it past one or two rooms, and with a different class that worked to my own personal taste, I could clear those rooms without taking a single hit. This is what Runers does best – not only does it offer variety, it welcomes it. Stubborn players will not be shown compassion; anyone who doesn’t adapt and practice will be punished.
Once you select your character and difficulty, you are thrown into a dungeon and asked to clear that floor. There are different rooms, some containing enemies of various kinds and some not containing any. Some rooms will contain hazards such as ice or fire, creating an even bigger challenge as you are swarmed by hordes of opposing enemies. Run around the room, being as agile as possible, trying to avoid being hit by enemies, all while using the cursor to shoot enemies with your chosen spell. It harkens back to the aforementioned Smash TV-type shooters that captured the excitement of many gamers once upon a time. Once the floor is cleared, the level is complete and you move onto the next one. But once you die, you must start all over again. It’s relentless.
Rather than trying to progress like most games of today ask, you are looking to get as far as possible and score the highest amount of points managable. This formula does away with the more typical RPG aspect of levelling up throughout the game to defeat stronger enemies. While a basic element of role-playing still remains in Runers, it is not as important as in other games, which is a breath of fresh air that allows the player to enjoy a more arcade-style dungeon crawler. Throughout your attempt to clear a floor, you can level up and, in doing so, will bring up a screen offering you some spells to choose from that give your character a small boost in HP, defence, or speed (to name a few). Once you die though, you will have to start from scratch, but that is all part of the fun. Most of the time.
As alluded to previously, one fact you must be prepared to face while playing this game is that you will die. A lot. I like to think I’m a good gamer, if not very good, but even on the lowest setting – an aptly titled “Wimpy”, I may add – I still found it extremely difficult to cope while mobbed by a multitude of enemies. That leads me to my main point: this game is for the hardcore out there; the ones that love dungeon crawlers, who love a challenge. It can get to the point Dark Souls and Demon Souls did, where you become so infuriated that you just have to put the game down and walk away for a breather. Runers will not hold your hand and it will show you no mercy whatsoever.
VERDICT: Runers is an immensely fun game for fans of the dungeon crawler to get excited about. Hardcore gamers will love what LGK Games have created with the diversity and variety of both the character selection and the enthralling gameplay. It is as intense a game as I have played in recent times and I did get close to smashing a few things in frustration – it is as unforgiving as they come. A fast paced, pick-up-and-play, run-and-gun dungeon crawler that may impress the hardcore – if it doesn’t drive them insane.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.