Rhythm games rarely see much in variety. For the longest time, we lived with a market that saw an influx of plastic instruments that crowded all of our living rooms. In fact, one might even say there were too many games. As an individual that faithfully purchased every Guitar Hero and Rock Band, even I started to get sick of the genre around the 2009 time period. Since then, it is a genre of games that I rarely re-visit, not to say that there haven’t been good rhythm-based games though! Games such as Thumper and Amplitude have come since then and were perfectly fine. This comes down to me being in a weird place mentally that I wasn’t sure if I could play, and enjoy, a game like that again. When I decided to review Runner 3 by Choice Provisions, I had some reservations on how I would enjoy the game. Most gamers will have heard about the Bit. Trip. games at some point or another, and likely recognize their main mascot, Commander Video. I had just finished reviewing a game that is a survival horror game with some dark moments, so I was ready to have a nice pallet cleanser. I definitely picked the right game for the job!
Runner 3 is an auto-runner starring Commander Video and what I assume to be is his wife? They are on vacation and before you know it, you are off on your adventure. I, admittedly, have never played any of the other games in the BIT.TRIP. series so I was absolutely delighted when the game started and the story was being narrated by Charles Martinet, some people may know him as being the voice of a small character named MARIO! The story is also told using puppets, paired with the tongue twister style of dialogue, I was laughing out loud to how ridiculous it all was. In fact, the game is very aware it is a game and will do little things to poke fun at the player. It has a very matter of fact style of comedy that I, personally, am a massive fan of.
For players that are unfamiliar with auto-runners, the point of each level is to jump, slide and punch your way through an obstacle in each level to get Commander Video from the beginning to the end. On paper, it is very simple to do! Gamers only have to concern themselves with those manoeuvres as the character will run on his own, hence the name auto-runner! The game has a feature that I absolutely adore; the ability to change the difficulty of each level in a multitude of different ways. You can remove enemies completely, have auto climbing of stairs as well as other features, at the cost of reduction of your points multiplier. I wouldn’t recommend playing at the easiest difficulty though as there is virtually no challenge to the game. When you play the game on the normal difficulty, it starts off alright and then it progresses to a point of supreme aggravation that will tempt many gamers to throw their controllers in rage!
Runner 3 is still a rhythm game at heart. When playing in the harder difficulties, the music correlates well with the action of the game. The beat of the song could correlate with a jump over an enemy, perhaps it will be a timed part of a jump over a gap, it really could go along with anything. In a game where timing can be everything, it is important to utilize your eyes an ears in every single level. a fraction of a second could be all the difference in if you beat a level or not, especially when you are striving for perfect runs! Each level has 100 gold bars in them to collect which also act as a form of currency to use to be able to play the insanely hard levels. After beating each level, you the ability to re-play it with the “Gem Path” open. Gems are used to buy different accessories in the shop.
The game itself is actually pretty short. I was able to beat it in 3 hours. There are a total of 3 worlds which contain 9 levels each and a 10th level that contains a boss fight. Each level is generally short, 5 minutes or less, but multiple runs are suggested to get all the gems, gold bars, and other hidden items. The boss fights were hands down, my favourite part of the game though. Each one felt very unique! Each boss took only 3 hits, but there may be unique strategies needed to take them down. I love that they were able to even put boss fights into an auto-runner, let alone make them enjoyable!
Runner 3 was a game that came at the right time for me. Any time I felt a level was a little bit on the harder side, I was able to tweak it so that I was able to beat it with no issue. I love the games bright colours and engaging soundtrack. Even after players finish the game, you can always go back and try to get the Perfect runs. Its goofy family-friendly humour kept me entertained and I look forward to challenging my sons to whoever can have the best runs!
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*