Runner3 Review (Switch)
''And I run, I run so far away''
Runner3 is a auto run arcade platforming game made by Choice Provisions. It is the third game in the popular franchise. But does this entry have what it takes to run down the competition? Let's find out!
I'm going to try to something a little different with this review. I want to try to review this game as if it were it's own standalone title and not part of a series of games in a franchise. The reason I want to take this approach is because so many other reviews are comparing it to the previous games,while that's not wrong per say, I feel it can do this game a little injustice overall. So this review will focus on just the games core aspects alone and wont be compared to the previous entries in the series.
So with that said and out of the way, let's get down to what truly matters with a game like this, its game play.
Runner3 as mentioned before is an auto run arcade platformer,which you can even consider it to be a rhythm game when you sit back and actually put it in perspective. You play(mostly) as Commander Video as you jump,run,kick and duck your way through hazard after hazard,all while collecting as many gems and gold that you possibly can.
There are only a total of 4 hub words that you will come across in this game, 3 of those hubs housing 9 different sub levels and one boss fight each. However,that's not the full truth to it all, there are many bonus levels and extra content to discover as well,but I'll save that for further on below and get into more detail at a later time. Right now we'll focus on the main aspects of the core game itself.
Each hub world you encounter has its own unique theme and overall craziness for you to enjoy and laugh at and lots of secrets to discover and unlock,but I feel the first hub world you start your journey in,acts really as more a tutorial in a way. What I'm trying to convey here is that really the first hub world in the game is teaching you level by level about the different mechanics you will have to use the further you make it into the game.
The opening levels will have you learning how to do basic jumping and letting you know that you have to hold down the jump button to get a specific amount of gliding distance for your character to make a longer jump through the air. While also at the same time also teaching you about the ways of the double jump,which will end up being crucial to you as you pass through the game deeper into its levels. But I feel the challenge really doesn't hit you till you enter the later stages(level 7 or 8) of hub world 1 and starting into world 2.
Now don't get me wrong when I tell you that I feel the challenge isn't there at the beginning,that's a bit of a trick answer. New gamers to this series be warned, this game can be unforgiving to you and it will PISS you off if you do not have the patience for a game of trial and error. You will die tons and tons in the early levels,but they will NOT offer you the same challenge that you will experience in the later hub 1 levels or world hub 2 levels. This is what I'm trying to say.
But I'm getting of topic,my attention is being distracted by something else, so what I was saying was, oh wait is that squirrel?. Sorry I did it again. What I want to touch upon right now is,ok, so you run and jump, what about the core game play,like what are you actually avoiding using the techniques you learned? Well I will answer this for you right now, just as soon as this butterfly leaves my sights. Ahem.
Since Runner3 has you on an auto run, you can never stop running,so you're always on a fixed path of left to right with the goal of jumping over enemies that are electric,flying boulders,bouncing barrels,platforms,boxes and many other hazards in your way. The key is to know how to react and when to react to each situation immediately and on the fly without even giving it a second thought. This is where some people will thrive and some people will ultimately fall over and die or break their controllers,whichever comes first.
The levels in some of these hub worlds start off fairly simple, jump over a few bad guys,jump on a few hills and pillars and make it to the end of the levels. However,with each level you pass,another obstacle and challenge comes your way. This is when you will have to be on your toes because the speed of which you have to react becomes smaller and smaller and the window you have to make a decision because more narrow.
You will move onto having to do a double jump,to immediately duck,do another small jump, do a front kick and then time your jump perfectly to make it onto a ledge below or higher one above you. It's non stop action and you can't look away for one single second,because if you do, you'll die,no questions asked. But this is what makes the game such a damn pleasure to play and why its so addicting.
Early levels like I stated before start off very linear and straight to the point,left to right to get to the end finish line,but the levels really do way more than this. Most stages offer you alternate routes to take in order to finish the level, this will require you to press L or R,depending on what angle and platform you're on to switch to that different path. Once you do this, you will be able to go to a different part of the level for a short period to collect gold,gems or even find secret collectibles and Hero quests. What is a hero quest? stay tuned and I'll explain in a bit.
But woah there Forrest Gump,stop your running, do not get too excited just yet,not all these alternate paths are unlockable and passable just yet. You see most of the levels you have to beat at least one previous time before the alternate path opens for you to take. You will be able to take these alternate paths by selecting ''Gem Run'' after finishing a specific level. The more Gems and Gold you collect, the more items you will be able to buy for your character and others later.
One aspect I want to talk about that people should pay attention to is the level variety in this game. It might seem like I'm explaining it as just a casual run and jump type of game,but that couldn't be further from the truth and it's just wrong. Runner3 has a variety of worlds in which each offers their own different perspective and different challenges you must face based off the theme they have going for them: Food Land,Machine Land,Spookyland.
If I had to pick a favorite out of these I would have to go with Machine Land. The obstacles you come across in this stage trump the others by far. You must hone all your skills and senses and be able to make jump flying kicks,jump over an electric enemy,dive underneath another and then go off path and fly in a 2d flying section. Between the music and its atmosphere,to me it adds the most out of all the stages in the game.
But the last thing I want to touch upon before I get into the juicier part of the game is the boss fights. These are the highlight of the game to me. Sure they aren't exactly the hardest thing in the game or even the longest of fights, but it incorporates the running and core aspects of the game itself beautifully. I do not want to spoil all there is to find out about the 4 bosses that you will ultimately face in the game, but they're not only hilarious and charming,but they offer a short break in between regular levels that honestly brightened up my mood after a long period of dying.
The level design by Choice Provisions ranges from ''what the hell were they thinking'' to ''damn this looks pretty cool''. The first one not even being an insult because trying to figure out what the devs were even thinking about when creating these levels is actually what gives this game its full charm. I'll explain a little bit so you can shake your head and laugh along with me.
The weird stuff I'm talking about are things like a giant sausage wearing a monocle and smoking a pipe,a giant living beehive puking out honey and a sausage throwing santa. That's just wacky,but I adore it. Never change Choice Provisions,never change.
The levels themselves are beautifully rendered and each level you play is extremely detailed and full of life. Even objects in the backgrounds you never interact with are always doing something,all animated and its just splendid. The developers chose a style that fits perfectly and they nailed it in my own personal opinion.
Now for the music. This damn music. I stated earlier that this game works like a rhythm game and that is 100% true. Every time you collect a gold piece in this game, the sound effect you make lines up exactly with the beat being played in the background. Its blended and mixed so well with each other that it seems like you're helping create the music as you go. While playing you will notice you're making Commander Video jump to the beat of the song without even realizing it and most of the time,that is actually beneficial because a lot of the levels are based off rhythm itself in your jumps.
This is the section I've been waiting to cover. With the above game play details, I kept out quite a bit and that's because it mostly relates to all the extra side quests and side missions you can do in your own spare time after beating the main game. These have no barrings on the main story mode and everything is optional,however these will extend the amount of time you play this game by literal HOURS.
In this game you can earn or find collectibles by completing the game or by collecting as many gold blocks and gems that you can find. When you have acquired enough gems and gold blocks,you may venture to any of the 3 hub worlds and enter ''the shop''. In this shop you will be able to purchase a variety of cosmetic items for Commander Video and his female friend. These range from new accessories to wear,new full costumes to wear and even new capes to wear for when you pick up enough speed via boomboxes during the regular missions. These will take quite the effort to get via grinding out levels,but if you're a fan of 100% completion, then this is the road for you!
These quests are hidden through out specific levels and they require you to basically go on a ''fetch quest''. Each NPC you run into that needs your help will require a certain task for you to complete or an item to bring them,then they will reward you for it when you do complete the task and bring them the item. The reward for finishing this is unlocking a brand new character to play as. This givers you greater incentive to find all the hidden NPC's and unlocking every character you possibly can.
There are two types of bonus levels in Runner3 and both of them are able to extend the amount of time you play by minutes to hours depending on how much you die while doing them. The two types of levels are retro themed levels in a classic looking 2D look and then sub levels that are off shoots of the normal levels. The off shoot levels are much harder in comparison to your main missions.
In regards to the retro based missions you encounter, you may only access these by finding the VHS tape collectibles scattered through out certain levels. Once you collect enough of them, you will be able to use them in the hub maps in order to play a 2D stage. In these 2D stages you make your way around like a traditional platformer. Jumping around,kicking,timing jumps. Its just your normal platformer game,but extremely fun. Some are more fun than the regular game's levels themselves.
The off shoot bonus levels though can be SUCH a pain. If you thought the regular game offered you a challenge,then you have no idea what you will be getting yourself into when completing these. I personally spent 50-60 tries on some of these,while usually only spending 15-20 deaths on the hardest stages in the main game. They are no joke,but when you complete them, its so damn satisfying!
Overall my final thoughts on Runner3 by Choice Provisions is large in part a positive one. The difficulty of the challenges and the levels themselves is a breath of fresh air in the age of games becoming nothing more than hand holding. Runner3 offers players a great variety of levels,charming and hilarious characters,great level design,lively environments and tons of unlockables to discover.
My only real negative comment I could say would be, I just wish there were more worlds to play than just the simple 3 that they give you. But if that's the only criticism I could think of off the top of my head,then Choice Provisions has done their job well.
Runner3 is out now on Switch/PS4/XB1/PC/MAC
*Review code provided by Choice Provisions