This is a top down space shooter RPG, developed by triple b titles a family based indie studio from Dallas. This is their first game and they have spent a massive five years on it, and thankfully that shows through. All RPG’s have to have a story and this one even has its own companion book to add depth to the lore. You awake to find you have been a victim unelected surgery and that areas of your brain have been removed and replaced with an AI called Nero. If you find companions annoying then you are screwed because this guy is in your head for good. Fortunately he can on occasion be really amusing and he is basically the games narrator tutorial and hints function all rolled into one, so his usefulness outweighs the human need to silence the relentlessly chatty. Nero forces you to hit the ground running as your host vessel is about to explode and you need to pilot a ship quickly through a trench run before you go up with the mother ship. As the game progresses you learn that you are a “sage” (able to affect the fabric of space time with your mind) and that your kind have been marked for eradication by the antagonists of the piece the consortium of the inner rings.
So how does ring runner work? well it’s a top down 2D affair in a similar vein to “space pirates and zombies” another indie classic it has the same Newtonian physics thing going on I am not the best at predicting drift and i find myself using the inertial dampeners to brake quite a lot, I expect it would be better with a controller. Surprisingly though i seem to be surviving by the skin of my teeth. The game is quite massive in its scope the opportunity for customizing the sixty five plus ships in the game are effectively infinite. You really have to treat it like a role-playing game in this respect, constantly tinkering and adjusting the weapons, engines, shields and systems. somewhere in the game is a ship that looks like a mail box and i hear someone has modded a ship that behaves much like “link” in the Zelda games with boomerangs and spin attacks, it may or may not have a pot breaking capability. There are fifty or so extra ship load outs on the steam workshop hopefully that will improve in time as the game gets more popular.
There is a good thirty hours gameplay on the mission also multiplayer and scenario modes you can unlock and a shop where you spend in game currency (no micro-payments here) to buy new craft and equipment. The UI has its good and bad elements the options and settings are really expansive, keys are all re-bind1able and you have options for controller or mouse and keyboard. A controller would be your best option i feel. Navigating the interface is a very musical experience in fact a great deal of work has gone into all the games sound effects and tunes but the strange crosshair cursor and light effects on the UI are distracting and can make some bits hard to read. But frankly it has so many options i would expect that can be changed. Combat as you would imagine can be very varied with all sorts of configurations and archetypes that allow you to play as a grapple ship or something tankier or even stealth based, in fact it’s pretty limitless.
You can expect some very varied game play with some very huge maps and nods to other genres of game, from scrolling shoot’em-ups and racing games that you might expect and elements like tower defense and the quest type RPG missions that you might not. It’s set against some very lush backgrounds and admirable sprite and level design and is very good at varying scale to make you feel like you are a very small bug in a large unfriendly universe. Just as well you have a computer in your head really for moral support. The enemy ships have pretty sensible AI they team up and try and draw your fire even in easy difficulty levels and reading their forum “the union” difficulty level really does start throwing the furniture at you. there are multiplayer modes that pit you against waves of fighters and death match combat in fact there are several options that are probably going to take me a while to unlock without cheating (they are actually force unlockable so you could jump right in ). There’s an element of co-op play in the multiplayer where you pilot a special class of archetype that lets you and a friend play as pilot and gunner in the same ship.
Should you own this? Yes sure the only thing that held me back was my own ineptitude with 2d sprite control. My only real criticism would be that i felt the story needed more immersion to flesh out the RPG side of it. It needed some character art and perhaps some voice acting and dare i say the odd cut scene? However I’m aware that that costs a fair bit of money for elements that would add only to the immersion and storytelling. Perhaps it would be different if i had read the book. The rest of the game is really frenetic blasting fun with a great story line and unforgettable moments of comedy gold.
I’ll happily give this a four (Indies seldom get a five from me.).
Great action. Great depth. Great sound and graphics. Not quite enough immersion to carry the RPG story though?
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.