Release date: Steam on 2nd September
Developer: LGK Games
Runers is a cute dungeon crawler that uses a top-down shooter style. Clearing randomised dungeon rooms (no playthrough is likely to be the same) you progress through floors scaling with difficulty, fighting bosses and clearing mobs.
Strafing is the name of the game. Entering a room almost guarantees that you will immediately be swarmed by swathes of enemies, and this game will punish you for each misstep as you continuously shoot and manoeuvre in an increasingly hectic maelstrom of deceptively adorable sprites. The point-and-click method of shooting implies a deceptive simplicity that doesn’t take into account the plethora of unique abilities and unlockable projectiles that the game has to offer – but more on that later.
Let’s be frank. The top-down dungeon shooter (or one of its many variants) has been done multiple times before, from mobile apps to AAA titles like Diablo 3. So is this rather quirky effort worth the €7.99 it’s currently going for on Steam? Well there are some characteristics that make this title unique.
The debut game of independent developers ‘Let’s Get Kraken’ Games (awesome? Awesome.), Runers was the product of two college friends who were ‘reminiscing about games they used to play’. There is a retro feel to the product, but it’s hard to see if it adds any nostalgic value. Maybe it’s just because similar games with limited (“vintage”) graphics seem to be currently saturating the App Store and other platforms, so that perhaps the title feels a lot more contemporary than initially intended.
The real unique selling factor for Runers is rather explicitly contained within the title. Killing mobs, as per the conventions of the genre, has a chance to drop loot. Where this game differs slightly from its peers is that this loot isn’t cash – it is usually runes. A multitude of different runes (of types such as Fire, Dark, or Air) can be converted into entirely new attacks, each with their own special projectiles, damage, and effects.
But wait! There’s more. These runes can be crafted in pairs or threes in countless different combinations, producing even more spells to be spammed in the sadly inevitable button-mashing to follow. That’s not to say that there aren’t tactics to be involved with utilising a maximum of 4 spells all having differing cooldowns and effects – just that they are limited.
The depth of the customisation provides a rich slant to the game, however. There are also many champion and skill types to select at the start of each run-through of the game, each with their own strengths (and sometimes weaknesses).
Couple this variety with a healthy load of challenging and diverse minigames and the end result is an honourable effort. In the end, however, it is hard to hide from the fact that this type of game has been done a million times before. If you have any particular interest in this genre, or a love of completing a wave of achievements with in-depth statistics, this game is worth a pop. Otherwise, the premiere recommendation on Runers is to wait to grab it on sale, or not at all.