I have never been that good at games under the Rogue-Like banner in the past. So when Runers popped up on Steam, I jumped at the chance to figure out what it’s all about and hopefully get better. Runers is an interesting little title that saw me playing for more time than I originally entailed, I’d set myself up for playing for thirty minutes of the full game as a preview, as I feel like I would need so much more than that to give it a full review.
Developer: Let’s Get Kraken
Publisher: Mastertronic Games
Previewed on: PC
Also Available On: N/A
Release Date: Out Now
When I’d first heard about Runers, I was intrigued to get my hands stuck into a well built Rogue-Like game where I could attempt to learn more about the sub-genre in which this game sits. Initially, I tried the game’s tutorials – which aren’t as good as I would have hoped, they do an alright job of explaining the initial premise and controls but got me muddled with the character customisation and rune combinations. This isn’t a major complaint as the functions it tries to explain become quite self-explanatory as you progress through the full adventure.
When starting the adventure you’re greeted by a lot of options of where to take your adventure. There’s plenty of passive abilities that you can tie with your playable class. This means there are a huge amount of combinations you can try over and over again until you find a class and ability combination that works best for the player. You can even choose your starting ability, meaning if you like the buff of a certain ability, you can use that everytime you play.
Once your choices are made you’re dropped into a rather bland colour palette of a world, with surroundings being as generic as the next. Although this doesn’t pose too much of a problem at the start, it does when you’re trying to find passage to the next floor. The lighting is also too negative in blank spaces, it’s all too dark when you’re standing on your own. The drab colour palette is decidedly improved when enemies start appearing on screen. There is a wide and vivid array of different enemy types, all with different abilities and spell animations. This is where the fun begins. Combat is fast and fluid, with breaks only when manage to kill everything in the room. Environmental obstacles stop you from running round and round in circles, giving good risk/reward opportunities in each level. Do you accept the negative buff for the break of melee attacks? Split second decisions like that are the embodiment of Runers and what makes the game so inherently fun.
Each room and floor in Runers presents it’s own challenges and opportunities to unlock more abilities for your hero. Combiners and runes gained through the destruction of objects and the slaying of enemies. Using these combiners with different combinations of the runes unlocks new abilities. These abilities seem to be mainly the spell you cast, which can be equipped to either LMB, RMB and the 1 and 2 keys. This control layout makes it easy to unleash all of your abilities at once, although the accuracy or each may be slightly skewed and is never a guaranteed kill.
There is the odd boss fight which keeps things fresh and keeps you guessing. The main part of any Rogue-Like game is that when you die, you lose all of your previous customisations and you start again with a new character. This means re-playability is king. I died a couple of times during my time with the game, getting to at most floor three. Each time I died I tried a different end of the spectrum when it came to my passive ability and hero choices. I only ever played on the wimpy difficulty setting, with more difficult settings available from playing the game and completing challenges.
No room on any of the floors felt the same, which is certainly a positive thing about Runers, it keeps things fresh regardless of what level you are on. One negative of the game though is character progression, levelling up is fairly simplistic, with options for what you receive for levelling up. The UI in this case doesn’t seem to give you enough information for what to choose. As with any RPG game, character progression information is important for what you want your character to become. The options presented when you level up are random mind, meaning you can never predict where you’ll end up.
Although I only spent thirty minutes with Runers – I was impressed. The colour palette and lighting might be a slight negative, but the fast and unpredictable gameplay negates those negatives. Character choice is good, although progression could be explained a little better. I’m more than willing to jump in for more, because it’s a great game to have a run with, as dying allows me to try something different, giving plenty of replayability. It’s well worth a look for sure, both the full game and a demo can be found here.