With the title Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, this rhythm-platformer by Gaijin Games is thankfully not as complicated as its name makes it out to be. Rather, it is very simple, requiring only a handful of commands to navigate the game’s levels. This simplicity can be deceiving, however, for under it lies one of the most challenging and rewarding games I have ever played.
In Runner 2, the player is cast as the intrepid Commander Video, a star-born traveller trapped in a strange alternative dimension. To escape, he must make his way through 100 different levels across five bizarre worlds, foiling the plans of the mechanical Timbletaunt.
Commander Video runs through the levels on his own, and the player has to perform different actions to avoid incoming obstacles. While in the beginning you are only concerned with jumping, more commands are slowly added until you are sliding, kicking, blocking and springing through levels like a pro.
The reason this works so well is because of the incredibly well thought out learning curve the game presents to players. It introduces each concept slowly, having players master each aspect of the controls before giving them a new one. By the end of the game, the player feels like a superhero, navigating levels that they would have once thought impossible.
This feeling of grandeur is heightened by the game’s stellar musical direction — every action the player takes is tied into the rhythm of the soundtrack, with the music growing in intensity and vigour as the level progresses. This sense of rhythm, combined with the peppy electronic soundtrack, elicits a sense of joy and accomplishment that is hard to find in any medium.
With an adjustable difficulty and optional challenge stages, Runner 2 is a game everyone can, and should, enjoy.