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RUNNER Review (PSVR2) – A High Octane Combat Driver That Lets You Live An Akria Fantasy

<RUNNER> Review (PSVR2) – <RUNNER> throws you into a living anime inside the PSVR2. The game is a mix between Cowboy Bebop, Akira, and Tron—a future city on another planet where a corporation has exploited humans.

You, a Runner, are tasked with moving stolen goods into the Gray Market as a smuggler. You are more than equipped to drive a futuristic sports bike with rockets, twin auto rifles, and an energy sword. However, the corporation has an endless supply of A.I. law enforcement to get in your way.

While the game is visually engaging, the gameplay requires the player to multitask like a god. Speeding up, dodging projectiles and traffic, shooting enemies, picking up power-ups, and changing ammo and weapons, all in real-time, can get a bit overwhelming.

After several attempts, I became more comfortable with the combat. However, it wasn’t until I discovered the setup story in <Preamble> that I truly became invested.

<RUNNER> Review (PSVR2) – A High-Octane Combat Driver That Lets You Live An Akira Fantasy

Crawler, walker, <RUNNER>

I won’t lie, <RUNNER> took me a decent amount of time to get used to. Driving, shooting, speed control, power-ups, grenades, rockets, missiles, and an energy sword are all at your disposal.

Getting to the point that I didn’t have to think to do an action took quite a few attempts at the first level.

The game requires you to think fast because you’re moving fast. While trying to solidify the controls, you are tasked with dodging traffic.

However, many vehicles on the road with you have an energy deposit next to or under them to fill your energy gauge. All the while, enemies are shooting at you; other bikes, cars, drops, aircraft, and robotic animals try to eliminate you before you reach your destination.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I sometimes got frustrated playing. The learning curve was quite steep. Nevertheless, I loved the world’s aesthetic, and although I kept failing, I still had fun during the run. Then it just clicked.

Dodging attacks, swerving between traffic, and destroying my enemy became my second nature. As you allow your brain to believe you are in this anime world, the better you become at dealing with the onslaught of enemies.

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This is when I finally started to have fun. No longer was I trying to aim; I was seeking and learning the attack patterns of enemies to avoid getting hit and being able to maneuver around traffic without having to take my eyes off of what I was doing.

I always had a loaded weapon by docking to reload it in downtime. These things improved the game and allowed me to feel powerful and learn to truly enjoy my experience. Then I discovered <Preamble>, and what was just a fun arcade shooter became something I got invested in.

The Story Made All The Difference

Those who know me know I will play anything if the story is there. While gameplay and visuals are essential, the story is where I truly get pulled into the game. <RUNNER>’s story is relatively straightforward. Before each mission, you are briefed by Vice about your mission and why you’re there.

It’s a story that serves its purpose. If it weren’t for the excellent voice cast, it would be almost not worth talking about.

That was until I played <Preamble>. <Preamble> isn’t inside <RUNNER>; it is an app downloaded separately that’s included in the <Runner> game purchase.

In this visual novel, you learn the backstory of yourself and the supporting characters, what they are doing, what they are fighting against, and why you, the player, should care.

Usually, I would hold something like this negatively against a game. Expecting players to invest so much time outside of a game to get to know characters in the game proper is usually an enormous ask. However, with Steve Blum as Vice, the voice cast alone is enough to jump into <Preamble>.

Arcade games are generally short-lived for me. While fun in small doses, I don’t often come back to them. However, <RUNNER> has been an exception.

From the world to the story, <RUNNER> won me over, and once the gameplay clicked, there was no turning back.

There isn’t really all that much to it, but what is there is solid and worth your time if any aspect of this game interests you.

<RUNNER> is now available on PSVR2.

Review code kindly provided by publisher.



The Final Word

RUNNER is a fun game that takes effort to get into. While the game's aesthetic is fun and 80's synth-themed, the heavy learning curve can deter a few players. However, with persistence and practice, RUNNER can quickly become a highlight of your PSVR2 library. From the power you feel from a successful mission, to the beauty of the anime world, I grew to truly love RUNNER.