RunGunJumpGun is a death runner type game, similar to Super Meat Boy or VVVVVV, developed by ThirtyThree whose company has only this game to its name on Steam right now. Utilizing only 2 buttons on your keyboard you will have to survive as your character runs across levels filled with spikes, saws and guns. An indie game with an indie price, giving me hope that we will see less indie devs overcharging.
Run has a short story behind the fast gameplay it throws you into, the sun of the Extax System is slowing dying out and we play as a scavenger trying to round up a valuable resource by the name of Atomiks. Instead of doing the smart thing and getting the hell out of dodge, we move closer and closer to the star. Starting off on a planet, moving through an asteroid field and finishing up on an orbital fortress, with the credits residing within the star itself.
After every level we are given a short little dialogue from one of the inhabitants of this system, though they mostly goad the player. We can gather some snippets of background information as we read these dialogues but it feels like they exist to fill the void between levels.
Each part of the game contains within it 40 levels, with a “boss” level at the end, totalling out at 120 levels with 3 boss like levels. It is hard to put a length to this game, as it is really a trial and error sort, figuring out the layout of the levels, dying over and over before eventually reaching the end. On top of the countless deaths, though the game likes to remind you on your death count, you will also need to collect a certain amount of Atomiks to unlock the stages.
As I’ve stated before, Run only has 2 buttons that you will ever need to press, Left and Right shift, with Left controlling your vertical movement and Right for shooting obstacles in your path. The game will change how these mechanics function however, with you going underwater which causes your vertical movement to push you deeper into the water, or levels that connect their top part of the screen to the bottom, creating an endless vertical space.
The game automatically makes your character run to the right, so you will have a set amount of time to react to the shape of the level and the hazards that fill it. Right shift will be used to open up blocked paths or destroy objects that would kill you. While the game does start off rather simple, utilising only the left shift button, it will slowly add in the new mechanics as you progress. The boss levels kind of combining all you have learned in that part of space.
The gameplay does take some inspiration from No time to explain, without any control of where your weapon points. With the simple controls you would assume the game to easy or straightforward, but with the design of the levels and hazards it is anything but. You will need to decide if you will destroy obstacles or find the perfect gap to fit through, all the while looking ahead or remembering the layout.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Run is very consistent, with a trance house style to it, however it can feel a bit empty in parts of the game. The majority of tracks will follow the speed at which you travel and the hectic design while others can play out of place. Besides the music, sound design is very clear, with some synthesised noises for the characters speech as well as explosions for your gun and destruction of hazards. While it all fits nicely together it does lack a certain quality of sound, either through not having enough time spent on the soundtrack or the developers lacking access to better software or sound packs.
The difficulty can ramp up extremely fast, too much for some players to handle, though in the spirit of Super Meat Boy you will be able to replay any level instantly. The rate of respawns will definitely aid in your attempts to beat levels, however the checkpoint system can leave a lot to be desired, with some levels containing very few of them or spacing them too far apart. With the addition of projectile hazards and new forms of vertical movement the degree of difficulty will jump even more.
A lack of any real control and the eventual boredom settling in after 30 levels or just pressing 2 buttons is what will set the score for this game. You’re merely put on a track, with only 2 or so ways of going about the stage. With the pace of the game and the dangers around you, it just feels too claustrophobic.
Overall RunGunJumpGun gets a 6/10, it’s a rather fun game, but only for so long. While Super Meat Boy has hit critical acclaim status, Run doesn’t really have that sort of style or quality that it needs to offset the difficulty. With no powerups or ways of approaching a level, you’re pretty much playing an endless runner with a jump function. The game does develop its movement as you progress further into it, but it doesn’t open up any more ways for player choice, giving you a clear path to take. However, with a price tag of only £5 it can be worth it for what you get. If you’re a fan of these types of games you should find some enjoyment with Run, but don’t expect the same quality.