ArcRunner review

by on April 15, 2024
Release Date

April 18, 2024 (console)


ArcRunner, from Trickjump Games, is a cyberpunk-themed third-person roguelike shooter that somehow slipped right under my radar when it released on PC last year. Despite it ticking every single box on my checklist, I still missed it. Thankfully, it’s now heading to consoles in its complete form, allowing me to jump in and take a look.

The loop here is pretty straightforward, the rudimentary story even more so. There’s a big space station, see, called the Arc, which has been taken over by a rogue AI, and you have to run around it blasting the ever-loving engine oil out of an army of robots, cyborgs, and drones. When you die, you fail the current run and head all the way back to the start of the first area, ready to begin again.

What keeps me coming back to ArcRunner, though, is the addictive progression loop. You begin the game with just one ranged weapon, a simple pistol, and the archetypal weapon of your class. Initially you can choose the Soldier, armed with a huge hammer and energy shield, or the Ninja, armed with a katana (because duh) and the ability to cloak to lose threat.


Each new weapon you pick up can be unlocked through prolonged use, enabling you to select it from your armoury before each run. You will eventually unlock a second weapon slot and a heavy slot for grenade launchers and HMGs, among other things. Completing levels earns you Nanites, which allow you to upgrade your operative between runs, adding permanent buffs like increased health, the aforementioned weapon slots, and even a second win mechanic that will revive you once per run.

While in the run itself you’ll be granted a free upgrade every time you finish a level, each of which corresponds to your arms, torso, head, or legs. For example: you can speed up your reloads; add the ability to hover in mid air or double-jump (or both); add extra shields, or gain the ability to mark enemies through walls. Each one tacks a little visual upgrade onto your operative, and by the middle of the second area you start to look like a mannequin that’s been dragged through a junkyard of discarded Christmas lights and dishwasher parts. Only, y’know, in a cool way.


After reaching the third area (each has seven levels containing a small and a large boss encounter), you can unlock the Hacker class. Where the Soldier is all about survivability, and the Ninja is about stealth and agility, the Hacker can dominate the battlefield, insta-killing smaller enemies or “recruiting” enemies to fight for you. It’s a pretty cool change of pace when you switch over, especially as you’ll soon start unlocking more and more interesting weaponry.

None of the guns in ArcRunner will set the world on fire, but some are pretty decent. The Lightning Gun obliterates close-packed enemies, for instance, while the Vanquisher shotgun packs a really satisfying punch. As you find new versions of your equipped guns, they’ll start picking up new perks such as elemental rounds, extended mags, ricochet bullets, or infrared targeting. There’s no aim down sights, which I always prefer, but I got used to it fairly quickly.

Not all the weapons are winners though, and not all the special items like Shock Grenades and Decoys are useful, but enough items drop from enemies, loot crates, and as rewards for special challenges, that you’ll never be stuck with one for long if you don’t want to be. On occasion, though, I hit reload while standing too close to a weapon and accidentally swapped out my primary while using my secondary. It’s easily done and easily missed, and if you cross a checkpoint in a level whatever you didn’t pick up is lost forever – so be careful.


Arguably, ArcRunner is more fun in multiplayer. I prefer to play most things solo, and after a few failed runs here you will start to get a feel for positioning with certain enemies. There isn’t much in the way of AI, and once you know how an enemy behaves you’ll have a better time – especially when the game starts throwing heaps of them at you at once. On standard difficulty it can be quite demanding due to the sheer number of drones and robots hurling various bombs and lasers your way. Played with others it can be more frantic, but there isn’t room for anything resembling tactical back and forth here. Enemies simply come at you, blasting as they do, and all you can do is strafe like crazy and fire back.

The lack of AI applies to bosses, too. None are all that hard beyond the fact they massive damage sponges and can deal high damage. In terms of tactics, there isn’t much to them aside moving and shooting. They will drop shield fragments, health, and weaponry though, so beating them will set you up a little for the next area, and even if you scrape through by the skin of your teeth you’ll get a little something back.

My biggest issue with ArcRunner is that there are no checkpoints whatsoever in the campaign. No matter how tough you get or what weapons you unlock, you’ll always have to play through the opening areas that become so simple that they’re more of a chore than anything else. Enemies die in seconds and can barely touch you, so you’re just playing them because you have to. You can up the difficulty if you want to, of course, but that makes the late game areas a lot tougher.


ArcRunner has a decent amount of variety where enemies and weapons are concerned, and randomised objectives that can pop up in runs help to keep things feeling at least somewhat unpredictable, but there just isn’t quite enough variety in the level design or real length to the campaign. You’ll be tearing through the early game in no time unless you really want to up the difficulty, and then you can easily die because all this does is make enemies spongier and you squishier, without really changing the set-up of each level.

As a simple casual game to blast away at either alone or with a buddy, ArcRunner succeeds. It’s got a straightforward loop, a forgettable story that serves as little more than a framework, some nice visuals (if you’re a fan of teal, magenta, and gold), and a lot of different weapons to work with. The AI may not be particularly smart, but the action is frantic, stylish, and addictive – and if that’s all you want from a roguelike shooter then ArcRunner won’t disappoint.


Lots of weapons
Satisfying shooting
Great progression


AI is a bit iffy
Not much visual variety
Forgettable story

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

The action is frantic, stylish, and addictive – and if that’s all you want from a roguelike shooter then ArcRunner won’t disappoint.