by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Just fine nonsense
BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien - hereafter referred to as Runner 2 for fear of hitting my word limit - is the latest in the series of BIT.TRIP games from developer Gaijin Games. It continues the story of Commander Video, the leader of his group of companions, as he chases a villain through the cosmos and into the Hypersphere. Unfortunately, he is hit by an Unfusion Beam, and is transported to another dimension. It is all just nonsense, but that is fine, as it fits in with the overall wacky nature of the game. Everyone is really here to play an excellent rhythm title, and Gaijin Games have not disappointed.
The more things change…
Those familiar with the first Runner game will be struck straight away by how much the presentation has changed. Gone are the simple, blocky visuals of old. The environment has smooth edges and depth and looks absolutely stunning. The actual gameplay mechanics are largely unchanged though. Your character runs automatically from left to right, and it is up to you to time appropriate button presses to avoid obstacles and collect gold.
The game is split up into five separate worlds, each with their own aesthetic, and there are multiple fairly short levels within each world. The game becomes ever more complicated as you progress, with new challenges being introduced all the time. If you encounter a low obstacle, you jump, if you encounter a high obstacle, you slide, simple. However if you encounter a low and high obstacle at the same time, you will have to jump while sliding. There are boards which you have to press a button to break through, which is simple enough. But again, sometimes you might be forced to break the boards while sliding or jumping. Then there are jump pads which make you go even higher than normal, speed boost pads, loop-the-loops and rails to hang from.
All of this leaves room for an enormous amount of complexity within each level, where you can be given any combination of obstacles at any time. They are best avoided by timing your button presses with the music. On the start screen, Runner 2 suggests that you play with a gamepad rather than the keyboard, and this is certainly a good idea unless you have spider-like fingers. Even when using the gamepad however, I often found myself floundering to find the right button to press. When you get stuck it is frustrating for sure, however it is usually down to your own failings, rather than being the fault of the game. The only time I found myself not knowing what to do, rather than simply not being good enough to do it, was during a few of the boss levels. The mechanics were the same, but the way the obstacles were presented were not always in keeping with the normal levels. Eventually I figured out why I was stuck through trial and error, but it was annoying to keep having to restart.
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.