by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Slave to the rhythm
That being said, for the most part I was having a fantastic time with Runner 2. The controls feel responsive, and the levels are challenging while remaining fair. Reaching the end of a level is tricky, but collecting all the gold and the score multiplier power ups is a whole other level of difficulty. If you collect everything within a level, you get an extra points boost at the end by shooting yourself out of a cannon at a target. If you do not perfect the level, then it simply ends before you reach the cannon. The transition to this section is seamless, and is a nice touch. Another points boost is gained from completing a level after jumping over the barrier in the middle. If you choose to simply run through the barrier, it acts as a checkpoint, which is definitely a godsend on the harder levels. You can also boost your points by hitting the dance button while you are running. However this leaves you unable to perform any other action while it is happening, so use it at your peril. It is tempting to do though, as at the start of each level you are shown the leaderboard for the top few players.
Of course, it is the music that is one of the main draws of a BIT.TRIP game. The soundtrack to is superb, and has been stuck in my head for days now. The music gets more and more layered and complex as you collect the powerups, just like in the original. You get hints of the songs from the first game, but they have been vastly updated. Each world has its own style of music, but my particular favorite was in World 3, The Super Nature, which hooked me with its jazzy grooves. Each obstacle you progress past has its own sound effect which fits in with the style and tempo of the music. From a purely presentational standpoint, Runner 2 is a stellar game but then it adds its addictive gameplay to boot.
It took me around five or six hours to reach and complete the final boss-level, but I was nowhere near finished. If I wanted to “triple perfect” every level then I am sure it would take me countless more hours. In each world there is a level which you must beat to unlock keys in some of the other levels. These keys can be picked up, and if you take an alternate, slightly harder route through the level, you will be rewarded with a new character, or a different skin for an existing character. These have no gameplay impact, but are a nice visual touch. Some levels have classic levels hidden within them, which are a throwback to older games in the series with 8-bit graphics and chiptune music.
Once I got going, I found it hard to stop running, jumping, sliding and smashing my way through the hundred and twenty levels Runner 2 had to offer. The gorgeous visuals combined with the fantastic soundtrack and addictive gameplay make this an excellent game, and it is great value for money.
Presentationally, one of the best games I have played. Simple, addictive gameplay, while offering a good challenge.
Occasional lack of communication over what needs to be done to progress.