PC, Nintendo Switch
There’s a lot to enjoy in Runner3, but it’s going to cost you. You better be ready to deal with repetitive gameplay and frustration.
The world’s weirdest and most colorful endless runner series is back with Runner3.
This strange rhythm platformer builds upon its predecessors with new content, interesting gameplay mechanics and plenty of goofy humor.
On paper, Runner3 is better than Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien in every way. So why am I not having fun?
Technically, Runner3 is not an endless runner, since each level has a beginning, middle, and end. But the game plays a lot like one, so that’s the easiest definition to stick to.
You run across colorful levels, jumping over, sliding beneath or kicking through many different obstacles in your way. The goal is simple – get to the end of the level without crashing into anything, and collect as many gold bars/gems/stickers along the way.
What differentiates Runner3 from your average mobile endless runner is its music track and challenging difficulty.
This game isn’t just a runner – it’s a rhythm platformer. Every move you make or collectible you pick up produces a sound. These are all laid out across the track in such a way that they create a level-long catchy beat.
Basically, you’re running through one big music sheet.
And it’s amazing. It’s one of the reasons I like the Bit.Trip Runner series so much – the music is an integral part of everything you do. Plus, it’s really, really good. It pushes you on to try again and again for a flawless run, which can be challenging to pull off.
Runner3 is a tough game and a real test of your reflexes and muscle memory. The levels keep changing around you as you blindly charge forward, sometimes in a manner of seconds. The game keeps adding new obstacles and challenges, like suddenly shifting camera angle or introducing a boss battle that shuffles the rules.
Some tricks do feel a little cheap, but this is the kind of game that you get better at quickly. You’ll fail – a lot, but after a few runs, you’ll be able to start competing for the high score.
There’s a global leaderboard for every level, so if you’re the kind of person who lives for breaking records, you’ll have plenty of reasons to replay levels. The problem is, the game kind of forces you to replay levels over again even if you’re not the competitive or completionist type.
You can choose to just cut through most of the levels without bothering to collect everything. The game will progress, and you’ll make it to the end eventually. However, you’ll miss out on more than half of the game’s content.
So you’ll be playing each level a few times. You’ll collect all the gold, then all the gems, and come back later to pick up new items to complete Hero Quests (more on those later). And frankly – it’s exhausting.
I’m not a big fan of repetition, but I’m OK with it if the game lets you lose yourself in its groove; if you can just turn off your brain and commit to the rhythm. Unfortunately, Runner3 is trying too hard to impress you with its visuals; it’s almost impossible to ignore everything that’s going on on screen.
I felt constantly stressed when playing the game. I just couldn’t relax and enjoy it and felt completely drained after half an hour of game time.
To make things worse, the game can be incredibly frustrating at times. There’s only one checkpoint in a level, which is fine – that’s part of the challenge and tracks aren’t too long. However, if you’re struggling to make it passed a particular obstacle (and you will), you end up repeating the same stretch of level over and over again.
At first, it’s just boring, but after a few more tries I found myself spacing out during parts of the level I knew by heart. That’s when I started making stupid mistakes that made me even more frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle.
Add some cheap deaths from when the game intentionally obscures your view, and the feeling the game doesn’t always register your input, and any notion of fun quickly dissipates; at least until you take a long break.
And it’s a real shame because Runner3 is not a bad game; just a frustrating one. It has a lot going for it: the level design is gorgeous, the music is excellent, and there is tons of content.
In addition to all the regular levels, which you’ll already spend a lot of time with, you have Impossible levels, Retro levels and a lot of characters to unlock.
Impossible levels are just that – super-hard bonus levels you unlock by collecting all the gold from the regular levels. If, unlike me, you don’t find the core game very challenging, then give those a try.
Retro levels are a whole other thing and play like a more tradition platformer. I don’t really see the point of those levels except for having more content for content sake. They are not that fun and feel out of place. I got bored with them fast and never bothered trying more and a few.
Additional characters are unlocked by completing Hero Quests. You get those by speaking to NPCs you come across, and they involve you going back to certain levels and collecting new items. Luckily for you, you don’t have to complete the level once you obtained the quest item, so you can grab it and immediately return to the world map. Once you completed the quest, a new character will await you in the title screen.
Frankly, to me, it feels more like padding than anything else. Collecting the items isn’t particularly tricky, and you usually stumble across them in your run.
It is worth doing for the characters themselves because they are a bunch of weird, grotesque and funny individuals. There’s no real difference between them, but they all look imaginative, and you can customize them to look even more ridiculous. Sure, it won’t affect the game in any way, but we all know the power of cosmetic items.
I wanted to enjoy Runner3, and at certain moments I did. However, at the end of each play session, I just felt… defeated. The game has a lot of good ideas, and if you break it down to its core elements, the game is pretty great.
The visuals and music alone are enough to draw you in, but the gameplay holds up as well, for the most part. The new vehicles section add much-needed diversity to the level structure, and pulling off a perfect run can be immensely satisfying. The problems start when you put it all together.
I don’t like to use the term, but the overall game is a mixed bag. When it works – it’s fun and somewhat addictive. But when it doesn’t, it’s a frustrating mess that’ll make you wish you’d run the other direction.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.