On the surface, Rage Runner puts you in a fixed wing jet and forces you down a corridor in a race against the clock.The main game has two modes, endless and practice, which feels more like the real meat of the game. When you look deeper, you’ll find an arcade mode that has its own main game that happens to be a 2.5D side scrolling shooter mixed with a mouse cursor shooting game. Inside the arcade mode is two mini games, one is Rage Runner’s own version of Super Mario Brother’s first level and the other is a game where you juggle a key. This circus has a lot going under the big top.
As for the main game, it can best be described as Star Fox inside a hallway. You’ll have to navigate the long corridors, dodging walls, smashers, low ceilings and high floors. Your winged future jet is wide, but tall, so to make it past a lot of walls you’ll need to turn with the simple touch of a button that immoderately shifts you. The vessel has a boost of speed that lets you charge forward and an air brake that will halt your movement no matter how fast. It holds you there and lets you fly again after a moment, so there’s no need to hold the brake. Then, to blast your way through doors, you come equipped with a forward cannon that only fires if you have enough ammunition collected from giant blue spheres.
To get additional time and even earn the right to boost, you’ll need to touch smaller blue orbs that can be found almost everywhere. Imagine them as a guide giving you incentive to shift your jet up or down as a warning about the walls coming your way.
If you scrape yourself on a wall, ceiling or floor there’s no problem. You only stop when you slam into a wall. One wreck and you’ll have to retry from the start. It makes for a fast paced one more try attitude, but the game should hasten your respawn rather than showing your crash and forcing you to chose to retry or exit. I will admit this type of game makes me want to exit more than keep playing.
When you finish one practice level, a new one unlocks. There are thirteen in all and there is even a level editor and Steam Workshop support to find new levels. The endless mode lets you select your difficulty and play a random game or designate a seed. The endless mode is completely different and has you flying between two sets of tubes while space rocks and debris obscure your path. There are no blue spheres or orbs to pick up, instead you start with a few shots in your cannon to make asteroids disappear. For each checkpoint you reach, you get a refill. It feels much easier than the practice levels.
One thing to note is how the endless scoreboard pops in every few seconds, obscuring your screen with a flat blue box to tell you rank 950, rank 900, rank 850 and so on. It can be amusing in a way, because the box is stapled to a point near your ship and not to your camera view from far away, to near has only the corner of the notification. Of course then your ship is too big and obscures your view, but there is also a bumper angle view.
There are budget games and then there are cheap games. Rage Runner feels cheap visually. The visuals during the game are serviceable with a lot of the same used textures and that’s forgivable, but what’s awful are the menus. Bold single color menus with no style other than the most basic shapes with text.
The menus are inconsistent. The game allows for 360 controller support or keyboard and mouse support and it makes use of the controller support on some menus. Other menus, you’re forced to use a keyboard, while others you need a mouse to click buttons. The inconsistency is so bizarre. To make things more interesting, the arcade game has its own separate menu and loading screen.
Its as if they are two completely different games have been stitched together as one. The arcade mode even has its own settings that look completely different from the main game’s. This is one of the biggest anomalies that I’ve seen when digging through indie games. The arcade’s menus look like they had work and effort put into them.
Another odd thing is how selecting the arcade game from the main menu forces you to select “arc” from a different list of games that has only one game. It could streamline things to just take people to the arcade game. It even has its own style of loading screen.Once its loaded, you need to use only a mouse to select “Play game,” so that’s three things you need to click on, but it goes one step further, because you need to press start on a 360 controller making that the fourth step. There is no key or mouse button to progress this except for the 360 controller.
This tacked on arcade game forces you to enter your name and that’s fine, but the main game knows your name. You can play the arcade game with four players and there is a trap, because if you chose character select it takes you to name your character. Its a trap because there’s no way to confirm your name even with two “done” buttons. Clicking them, hitting enter, space, escape and using the controller all fail. This is the same screen to name your character in the first place so it does work, but it works elsewhere.
Now that I’ve covered all of the surface level issues, its time to dig into the real “ARC” game itself. Story mode has you in a gun turret shooting down boxes using a cursor on the screen. Playing this with a controller could be better, such as a dash button for the cursor. Cubes appear, shoot projectiles and then your turret runs out of ammunition laughably quick. You then need to teleport yourself to a pod and run as a person to the ammunition box, grab it and run back to the teleporter where you can take over the turret again. As a person, one hit will kill you and make sure to use your few shots of turret ammunition wisely, because after two boxes, no more will spawn in. In fact its a lot easier to just shoot down the enemies using your character. His laser has no ammunition. Completing a wave starts a new one.
The first mini game is a Mario clone with guns. In this single level, you’ll find pipes, spiked rolling enemies and support beams that block your vision. There are bricks to shoot and question blocks to earn credits by shooting. You can jump and shoot in almost any angle, but its missing one key ingredient to any Mario game and that’s the ability to run. Without having a run button, it makes any pit a difficult death trap. One of the gaps you need to just about hover over the edge to make it.
The juggle mini game makes you juggle a key by shooting it. Your lasers bounce off the walls and floors so its possible to shoot yourself if there’s no way to dodge your projectiles. Its dull, but hey at least its here.
Well if you have a Youtube channel that wants to make fun of games, oh I highly recommend it. For anyone else, avoid Rage Runner. Even the main game feels like it should be on a mobile device and just lacks any polish to make it more engaging. I hope that the developers can learn from this and at least learn consistency with menus as well as sticking to one idea.