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Tricks And Tomes Will Break Your Bones: Runers

The Stranger introduces...

Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place back in the early afternoon - just about the time of my deep submersion in a different game altogether, an enormous, deep RPG. I only mention it because sometimes there's another game...I won't say a masterpiece, 'cause, what's a masterpiece? But sometimes, there's a game. And I'm talkin' about Runers here. Sometimes, there's a game, well, it's the game for its time and place. It fits right in there. And that's Runers, on Steam this afternoon. And it may be a roguelite game...but sometimes there's a game, sometimes, there's a game. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced Runers enough.

Runers landed on my hard drive at just the right time. I'm writing a feature that has involved far more transcription than anyone should ever have to perform and during breaks from that, I'm playing a splendid game for review. It's splendid but it's the kind that swallows four hours and doesn't even spit out any change. Runers entertains in five minute bursts and, hey, who's counting how many five minute bursts happen to occur back-to-back?

Just released on Steam, it's a "top-down roguelike shooter", which translates as Robotron with a touch of character management, a host of classes and races, and a nifty spell creation suite. As you play, you'll find that certain enemies drop runes and these can be converted directly into base level spells or combined to discover new magical formulae. There are 285 spells in total and even if the vast majority are little more than different kinds of homing and burning projectile, that's a good number. The game is about shooting, burning, freezing and maiming things, so it'd be a waste to have 70 spells that altered the metaphysical nature of the world's nation states, or turned rocks into ham.

Runers isn't particularly polished (it has a 'beastiary' and it's almost impossible to take an interesting screenshot because most of the screen looks empty) but I can't stop playing it. I mean, I have, just for a bit so I can write about it, but I'm going to fall back in again instead of getting on with what I'm supposed to be doing. I just made a spell that lets me shoot rocks that I can control with my mind and I'm using it to squish a bunch of angry water mages. Everything is randomised (of course) so the next room might contain burrowing grubs or armies of skeletons. Either way, I'll be hoping for some chaos runes to drop so that I can unlock some new dark magicks.

With a launch reduction of 25%, the price is £5.24 at the moment. I've already had precisely £7.46 of fun and I've only been playing for a couple of hours. There's even a demo, for those who may have a fiver but are tempted to save the 24p for a pack of Space Raiders and a Chomp.

Oh, and Let's Get Kraken is the best name for a game studio ever.

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