Welcome Time Wasters!
I promised last week that I wouldn’t just keep checking out games in Early Access, and I’m making good on that this week. In fact, I’m actually talking about a game that only just came out. That game is Runner3.
Runner3 is the newest installment in the Bit.Trip series of games. I’ve never had any experience with them in the past, but they were always on my radar. Now that I’ve finally got into the series, I’m glad to say that I enjoy it.
Runner3 is platforming game that has players running to a beat. I wouldn’t quite say it’s fair to call it a rhythm game, but there is a definite rhythm that players will get into after spending some time with it.
The entire goal of Runner3, like in most platformers, is to reach the end of a level. Of course, this may not be as easy as it sounds. Players will have to overcome a variety of obstacles along the way and they can’t stop to take a breather after starting a level. Yeah, Runner3 is an autorunner game, but don’t go comparing it to any of those autorunners on mobile devices. This game is in a league of its own.
What really appeals to me with Runner3 over other autorunner games is that there is a true sense of accomplishment that comes from playing it. This is partially because each of the game’s levels do have a definitive end. It’s not just an endless run for players to beat their previous high score. Players are free to challenge their old high scores, but that isn’t the point.
The other major factor that gives me a sense of accomplishment when playing Runner3 has to be just how difficult the game is. The first three or four levels hold the player’s hand to get them acquainted with the game. After that, it’s all unapologetic brutal platforming. The game challenges players to complete successive complex actions to reach the end of each stage. Even better is that the player can’t take a single hit without dying. The only glimmer of kindness comes in the form of a checkpoint halfway through each stage, and even getting to that can be a challenge sometimes.
Listen, Runner3 is hard, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. I’m not looking to scare anyone off that wants to play the game. Rather, I’m just making sure they know what they are getting into. Personally, I like it when a game challenges me, but I get that not everyone does.
If reaching the end of levels was the only task in Runner3, then players would become bored easily. No, there are also plenty of collectibles in the game as well. Almost every level in the game includes 100 gold bars for the player to collect. These aren’t a form of currency, but the game will require players to have so many gold bars before it will let them challenge certain extra stages.
After the player has beat a level, they then unlock the gem path. Gems are a type of collectible in the game that the player can only get once. The paths that players have to take will put them through more difficult versions of previous levels. Players can then use these gems to unlock additional costumes, capes and accessories for their runner.
There are various other collectibles that players will find when playing through Runner3, but they aren’t as common as gold bars or gems. This includes puppets that unlock puppet shows, special items for Hero Quests and VHS tapes.
The VHS tapes are rare, but they unlock special Retro Levels. These levels change how the game plays entirely and gives it a more classic platformer feel. For starters, the Retro Levels aren’t autorunner. Instead, the player has full control over their characters. The levels still challenge players to get to the end, but they also want to pick up gold coins along the way. Each level contains five gold coins that players can use to unlock more cosmetics for the characters.
Along with these Retro Levels, there are also special challenge levels that keep the game interesting. Just like the name sounds, these levels will really put the player’s skills to the test. The end of each world also has a boss battle. These aren’t always autorunners and give the game another little bit of extra variety to keep it feeling fresh.
When it comes to visuals, Runner3 is a treat for the eyes. All of the game’s environments are full of small details that can be easy to miss just running through them. Despite this, there are also plenty of big set pieces to catch the player’s eye and help set the mood of each level.
The Retro Levels in Runner3 are retro in a much different way than what most games go for. Instead, of reverting to sprite art, the game has a much more early Flash look. What I’m referring to here is the type of visuals you might find from Flash games online back in the early 2000s.
The audio in Runner3 is a trip. Each level’s music fits with the action, as one would expect from a pseudo rhythm game. The themes for each of the three worlds also matchs up with the visuals. The sounds effects are great, though I could have used some kind of audio or tactile feedback for kicks, but that’s only a minor complaint.
Overall, Runner3 is an absolute blast and a great way to waste some time. My experience is with the Nintendo Switch version of the game. It works perfectly on the platform and is the style of game that sits as a perfect companion to the Switch’s grab-n-go capabilities.
Runner3 earns 4.5 GiN Gems out of 5!