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Review: Runner3 (Nintendo Switch)By Ninjadillo At 06.06.2018 22:49

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The first thing that should be noted is that Runner3 is a very difficult game. It starts out fairly easy, but it's not too long until you have to pull off long stretches of consecutive, precise movements. As the move-set expands over the course of the first world, players will be juggling several different actions one after another, and bumping into an obstacle even once sends you back to either the start of the level or the nearest checkpoint.

It sounds daunting, but skills will keep improving with each completed level, until movements and actions flow together magnificently. Veterans of the series likely will have little trouble with the main campaign, although it is noticeably more challenging than the Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien nonetheless. It's worth pointing out that the difficulty options also seen in the second Runner game are now gone; there's now a base difficulty for all levels, with extra challenges coming from optional content, such as gem paths unlocked after beating a level once, which adds alternate areas to each level with harder collectibles to grab.

As with the rest of the BIT.TRIP series (not just the Runner subseries), the soundtrack is great as usual. From a presentation standpoint, the game far outdoes the first two Runner games in general. The camera now focuses on the levels from several different angles, adding a cinematic flair. Levels themselves are much more visually distinct, as well, with there being far more backgrounds and level themes in each world, unlike previous entries where many levels tended to blend together due to looking so similar to each other.

In fact, Runner3 is pleasantly more diverse in general. There are numerous new mechanics added both to the base move-set and specific level gimmicks. The most notable change is the addition of a double jump ability, which leads to some fluid platforming. You can also now fall faster during a jump by holding down on the controller, which makes the gameplay snappier as a whole, drastically lowering the feeling of floatiness. Many levels will have vehicle segments, as well, with different styles of play, such as riding minecarts or manoeuvring a rocket through projectiles. The levels are so much more memorable than in past entries, and it makes for an experience with lots of unique elements spread throughout.

Although having the new camera system is welcome, it does lead to an issue where you will occasionally be blindsided by an obstacle that was obscured by the camera. This doesn't happen terribly often, but when it does, it can't help but feel cheap. It doesn't help that each level is fairly long and there's only one checkpoint throughout, causing it to feel like salt is being rubbed in the wound. Even if you aren't being blindsided, the camera angles can get uncomfortable and make you worry that you will get hit by an obstacle because of said angle.

Runner3 also has less worlds than the previous entry, but it's got plenty of bonus content on top of the already great level design to compensate. As one example, it is possible to collect VHS tapes that unlock retro stages to break up the main campaign well due to them being fully controllable platforming levels instead of an auto runner, although these retro stages are definitely on the generic side. There's also the aforementioned gem paths, which add more paths to each level.

There are a few other types of collectibles, but they are sadly irritating to grab. There will often be times where you have to choose between collecting a piece of gold (there are 100 in each level and getting them all is required to have a "perfect" run, as acknowledged by the game) or grabbing a unique collectible. There's no skill to this, either, since it's not as if you are having to complete a particularly difficult section to get said collectible. There are some instances where you do have to go out of your way to get it, sure, but there are also plenty of scenarios where players will have to repeat levels for what feels like being just for the sake of repeating levels if you want to get 100% completion.

Easily the best piece of optional content is the extra levels that are unlocked by collecting certain amounts of gold. These stages are by far the hardest in the game (and offer what are perhaps some of the most brutal segments in the trilogy) and are cathartic to complete, with the sense of fluidity being at its absolute best as you are forced to get the most possible out of the controls. It's incredibly satisfying, which is a good way to describe the rest of the game, as well.

All that said, Runner3 is a rather short title otherwise and, as mentioned before, the number of worlds is small. However, it could be argued that this does well with its quality over quantity approach, and that its unique level design makes up for the short length of its main campaign. Whether or not this makes it worth the price tag is an arguable subject, but most are likely going to come out of the game with some level of satisfaction nonetheless.

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Final Score
[i]Runner3[/i] is a very well done addition to the series. The new dynamic camera, combined with more visually interesting environments, makes for some memorable locales, which are bolstered by the distinct level design. The new move-set abilities provide some freshness, and there's plenty of optional content to test your skills. It's a shame that said optional content is usually tedious to deal with, and as nice as the dynamic camera is, it can also sometimes lead to a few cheap deaths. Despite that, [i]Runner3[/i] is an addictive (albeit short) experience that platforming fans should look into, if they are up for the challenge.

7

/10

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