I love a roguelite/like, I am a sucker for neon and I drool at cyberpunk. So ArcRunner should be right up my street. However, I found that as a game, it just didn’t hit me at all. It left me feeling flat.
Let me clarify that, otherwise this would be a very short piece for no real reason.
There is ‘something’ to ArcRunner that can be amazing, but I find I am constantly fighting the game to find the enjoyment. Having to scratch so far beneath the surface, the game might need stitches.
The point of the game is to make your way through various arenas to fight waves of enemies because of some rogue AI, or something. Story really doesn’t matter and wasn’t all that engaging for me to actually care. But them, all I really want is the gameplay anyway in such a title.
The concept is fine, beat an area, pick up loot, improve stats, move on, rinse and repeat. That as a gameplay loop is brilliant and it works in so many other games it should be a slam dunk. Yet my issue is that after picking a character, I never felt like they evolved really.
For example. In Hades, it doesn’t matter how I start a run, because by the end of a rin I feel like I could be playing something fresh each time. Part of the fun is learning how to evolve your character on the fly. In ArcRunner I was trying to do that, but it felt as though I found a few weapons and skills that worked and then couldn’t help but stick to those, depending on which character I started with.
I am probably in a minority over that, but that’s just how I feel. I also wish that was my only real complaint. The issue that really stopped me enjoying my time with ArcRunner was that I had to fight the game itself, rather than just fighting the enemies within.
What I mean by that is. Whilst the aesthetic is lovely, it raises some issues with regards to seeing enemy placements in a level. It is the sort of thing that works well in a 2D or ‘isometric’ environment but when translated into a 3D one, it shows how important enemy and level design is. Because I found it a struggle to see where attacks were coming from and even where in a level I actually was.
There is so much neon that everything sort of just blended together. Enemies don’t stand out against their backdrops and routes through levels aren’t intuitive. Which when mixed with a game that requires you to play quickly and react fast, it just gets frustrating.
Now two things here… Firstly, I felt that the hidden enemies, the confusing routing and even the twitch gameplay could all work individually if the game was built around just one of those things. But having all three fight for attention, I just struggled with the whole thing. I like Apples, I like bacon and I like coffee. But I don’t want all of those mixed into a bowl for me to consume.
Also, the accessibility is an issue. The blending of elements could be down to my vision issues. Thus I would have hoped for some options to help enemies stand out from the background, or better signals to route me though. We’ve seen how to do thing well in Spider-Man, Dead Cells, etc. It would really help. Especially with the game playing so fast and twitchy.
ArcRunner isn’t a bad game and I think… nah sorry, I know I am coming from this as a disabled gamer and I forget that sometimes, thus many won’t have the issues I have. Maybe I should really spend my time with these only focussing on that aspect. Namely as, ArcRunner is getting positive reviews everywhere and it frustrates the life out of me that I don’t get that enjoyment.
What it shows me though, is it doesn’t matter how good a game is, if it isn’t made accessible then it becomes a chore for a whole audience to play and not get the enjoyment that many others will.
Urgh, I’ve realised now I am trying to show I am making an excuse, either for my own disability, or the game for not working for me. So take that as you will. Not every game is for everyone, I get that, but at least please… please give everyone a chance to play it properly.