This is more than just a half-measure for the Runner series. Runner3 takes what we loved about the previous edition and aims to add an entire new series of layers on top.
I think I played the same Runner3 level about 6 times. The first was to just make it through to the end (in which I must have met my doom a thousand times in the the process). The second was to satisfy the collectionist in me, grabbing every gold bar along the way. The third was to try one of the branching paths. The fourth was to try another. The fifth was to see if I could unlock the retro challenge. The final time was to test myself and see just how fast I could do it all together.
This is normal, no matter how much I probably annoyed the people waiting in line behind me.
Fans of Runner2 will know this game. Not only is it very similar in aesthetic and design, but it’s also similar in how it dangles a carrot in front of you to get you to come back. Visual upgrades aside (of which there are many, especially the amount of depth in what’s going on in the background) there is a lot to do and enjoy in each area, from multiple paths to unlocks. Runner3 ramps that up considerably, however. It’s still based on running to the right and timing actions to the music, but now things alter and shift based on what the challenges require. In one area I hopped into a plane and flew in 2D. In another, the vantage point switches to behind the character. Mini-games, rhythm modes, pure action modes, and more round out just the basic levels, but developers Choice Provisions added in a whole slew of other things as well. Hero Quests, retro levels with a Hanna-Barbera cartoon aesthetic, new accessories and characters, and even the ability to replay levels with open traversal (think Super Mario Bros 3, where you can explore until you’re bored) add multiple things to do. Choice wanted to add new experiences to really flush out the game, and make replay a massive part of it.
My demo session included a few stages in first world that were very similar to Runner2. I kept dying, but the gracious restart mechanism in the game prevented me from losing progress. This led up to a boss fight, that was already different than just about any in Runner2. I was dropped into a sort of single screen mini-arena, in which the boss launched missiles at me that damaged the bridge I was standing on. I could fall into a pit below (ouch) or try to avoid the gaps and missiles. Every so often, a projectile was thrown my way that I could launch back at him off in the distance. The fight followed a traditional “three hits x three times” structure, so I knew how long the battle was going to be and what to expect.
Bam. Goner. I defeated him and promptly opened up the next set of levels to traverse. I couldn’t help but dance along to the beat in place while I did it, too.
Runner3 looks like it’s going to have all of the charm and joy of Runner2, but with a heck of a lot more to do. The game may be in 2.5D, but this is far more than just Runner2.5. Look for it in May on Switch.