A roguelite shooter that blends ruthless mechanical mayhem with a glitz-gloved cyberpunk punch.
The galaxy’s gone haywire, there’s a rogue AI in town, and it’s up to a band of futuristic desperados to bring some semblance of order to a space station spiraling into chaos. Welcome to ArcRunner, Trickjump Games’ most recent foray into the roguelite genre, where you’re as likely to eat a photon bolt as you are to take a breath.
ArcRunner thrusts players into the pulsating heart of a digital dystopia, one that’s teeming with more rogue robots than a classic Asimov tale. As you boot up the game, the first thing that hits you is that relentless cyberpunk veneer. The world Trickjump Games has concocted is one part neon-soaked future cities from Ridley Scott’s fever dreams and one part feverish bullet hell arcade throwback.
Gameplay – The Heartbeat of Havoc
In terms of gameplay, ArcRunner latches onto the tried and tested formula that’s defined the roguelite genre—a seemingly Sisyphean loop of death and rebirth with each “run” adding incremental progress toward an ostensibly unreachable goal. The mechanics are straightforward for veterans of the genre, but they contain enough depth and variety to enthrall newcomers.
The game straddles the line between frenetic third-person shooting and strategic planning, as you choose between three distinct classes: the Soldier—a bastion of defense, the Ninja—shadow itself made flesh, and the enigmatic Hacker, who twists the code of the world to their will. The former two are open from the get-go, while the Hacker is a trophy for those persistent enough to brave the trials all the way to Eden—the cradle of calamity within ArcRunner’s narrative arc.
Depth and Diversity – Selecting Your Symphony
Each class dances to its own tune; the Soldier conjures up barricades from the ether, a bulwark against the storm of metal fury. The Ninja is a fleeting wraith, skimming in and out of visibility, offering a scrupulous slice-and-dice ballet. Yet it’s the Hacker that commands your attention once unlocked, serving as a hacker’s delight that distorts enemy allegiance and bends the station’s very infrastructure to your whim.
Many games promise divergent playstyles, yet ArcRunner makes good on this tenet, thanks to a toolkit teeming with customizable guns, each with its own litany of unlockable modifications. From ricocheting shotguns to elemental bows that channel the visage of a cybernetic Artemis, Trickjump Games has packed enough firepower in here to appeal to the connoisseur and the casual trigger-happy player alike.
Visuals – Through the Looking Glass
The spectacle of ArcRunner can be double-edged. The aesthetics, a cacophony of cyberpunk tropes, are a kaleidoscope that drenches every byte of the space station Arc. The levels—a trifecta of City, Docks, and Eden—are visually entrancing, but they occasionally stymie gameplay with distractions and obscured enemy fire. A melding of form over function in unforgiving roguelite climates can be a bane for even the most nuanced of gamer.
However, the artwork deserves an ode; the melding of 3D level design with 2D player models and enemy avatars breeds a unique visual flavor. Detouring into an in-game photograph mode is not a questioning of ‘if’ but ‘when’, as you will be compelled to capture these techno vistas, an art director’s visionary banquet.
No roguelite stands without its progressive underpinnings. In ArcRunner, your adventurous exploits are rewarded with nanites that spruce up your abilities between runs. Think of them as the musical notes that allow your character’s tune to evolve—from a feeble rst into a sonorous symphony.
Weapon unlocks tethered to challenges are ArcRunner’s pièce de résistance. They encourage engagement with the entire arsenal, nudging you toward mastery of every firearm and blade, demanding you grok their cadence to secure that all-important advantage in future runs.
Moreover, the character upgrade system, a plethora of augments and buffs, leaves tangible marks on your avatar—not merely numbers tickling up some unseen stat sheet. It’s visual, visceral, and satisfying.
Performance and Technicality
A nod to the technical renditions; ArcRunner performs its mechanical ballet with reasonably few stumbles. On a mid-range PC setup, the game maintains its tempo well, though it does demand to dial back the graphical tempo from Ultra to High to eschew the few, albeit sparse, drops in frame rates. Encountered glitches were minimal, the likes of a persistent pause menu that layered itself like an unwanted encore.
The Final Verdict
While ArcRunner doesn’t redefine its genre, it performs a concerto so sharp, so vibrant, it simply can’t be ignored by fans of either shooters or roguelikes. It shuns an innovative opus for a refinement of the roguelite melody—a melody that, despite its occasional cacophonous note, will lure you back time and again for ‘just one more’ recital.
The game stands as a testament to the factors that make roguelites addictive; the twitchy, white-knuckle gunplay, the progressively potent power crescendo, and the promise that the next run may be ‘the one.’ ArcRunner may wear its influences on its sleeve—a cybernetic one boasting the seams of Warframe, the loot frenzy of Borderlands, and the dogged determination demanded by the likes of Mortal Shell. Nevertheless, Trickjump Games orchestrates these elements into a symphony that is both familiar and refreshingly new.
- Diverse class system encourages varied playstyles.
- Gunplay and combat are satisfying and offer variety.
- Permanent upgrade system provides a sense of progression.
- Co-op mode greatly enhances replay value and fun.
- Highly optimized with solid performance on most PCs.
- Some visual elements can hinder enemy visibility.
- Progression can feel monotonous and grindy.
- The sense of repetition in level design.
- In-game effects lack punch, impacting immersive quality.
- Momentary peaks of difficulty can be frustrating.