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ArcRunner Review

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To me, cyberpunk has become the new zombies. You remember, a while back, you couldn’t move for zombie games? Well, in my mind, it all seems to be cyberpunk style games that are flooding the market, mostly on the back of Cyberpunk 2077.

The latest from PQube and Trickjump Games is not set to buck this trend. You see, ArcRunner features “Stunning cyberpunk stylised 3D graphics” – and who could ask for more? 

ArcRunner review 1
There are some serious Cyberpunk vibes here

The graphics on display here are bang-on the cyberpunk aesthetic, with much neon and a permanently dark sky to set it off. The action is viewed from the traditional third person over-the-shoulder viewpoint, and we are tasked with wandering around a set of three dimensional street scenes, taking out all and sundry enemies that come towards us. 

The design of the enemies is pretty good, ranging from small flying drone type things all the way up to large robotic enemies. And there are no shortage of them to dismantle. It’s helped then that the ArcRunner camera is pretty good, and can be swung around to make sure that you always have the best view of the action.

I’d highlight the sound too as gunfire and grunts work nicely. All in all, this is cyberpunk, but it works. 

There is clearly a lot of thought that has gone into the narrative of ArcRunner too. The story takes place on a giant space station called The Arc, a place run by a massive AI called KORE. This AI has now become infected by a virus. Of course, there is a reset button, but as you may expect to hear, it is a long way away from where we start out, and there are a lot of crazed minions of KORE between us and there. 

We play a general, apparently the greatest tactical mind in the universe. However, a slight problem is that we don’t actually have a body. Instead, modern technology means our consciousness can be uploaded into a cybernetic body, controllable as if it was our own. And this gets around the pesky “you dies” nonsense, as when we die (and expect to, a lot!) you’re no more than two seconds away from a fresh new body to try and go again. What could possibly go wrong?

ArcRunner review 2
Bit of neon, anyone?

Well, from the moment we start, pretty much everything! The first choice we have to make is the style of cybernetic body we want to inhabit – from a choice of three. There’s a soldier looking to make the most of their combat specialist skills, a hacker who uses infiltration techniques, and finally a ninja, billed as a fast and lethal fighter. Of course, of that choice, who wouldn’t choose a ninja?

Each character comes out of the blocks with two weapons – a firearm and a melee weapon for those up close and personal moments. Now, this game is, at its heart, a roguelike experience – as we go through the game and complete sectors of the map, we can get nanites, spending them as death occurs to permanently increase our stats. These range from extra health to more weapon damage, through to unlocking a new ultimate attack for each of the bodies. It’s safe to say that these upgrades can make all the difference from run to run. You see, when you die, you have to start all over again, so learning what the enemies do and how they attack is vital. 

Each section of the map is made up of a few subsectors, each of which has a collection of enemies that have to be disposed of. The enemies come in waves, and once a wave is defeated, the next one spawns, and so on and so forth. Finishing a sector of the map gives you an opportunity to purchase a temporary upgrade (as in they are reset at the end of each run) and these can also help – more ammo, or lightning based attack power ups, or any of the other choices. 

Further, in ArcRunner, defeated enemies will drop weapons that you can pick up, and there are a few categories of these also – pistols, shotguns, SMGs and more. Finding the correct loadout that works for you is a challenge. I personally like a shotgun, especially as new varieties can be found, each with increasing rarities adding new functions. There are even little gadgets that can be collected and used, ranging from decoys to grenades. Again, these add a new dimension to your run. 

ArcRunner review 3
Sector 3 looks enticing…

Combat in ArcRunner is very tough, but enjoyable – there is a pleasing circularity to the gameplay on which you’ll look to defeat enemies, pick up their weapons, and then defeat more. Each weapon also has a challenge attached to it (killing a certain number of foes for instance), allowing the weapon to then be available for use in the next run from the start. 

There is a multiplayer element to ArcRunner too, but sadly it seems as if the community is non-existent. If you can find a friend to share the aggro, then that would be a bit of a blessing. 

There’s no doubt that ArcRunner is a fun blast. It isn’t wildly new or unique, but what it does it does well. As a roguelike shooter with a cyberpunk skin, there is enough about the gameplay loop to keep you coming back. It’s a shame about the online world, but I guess the virus must have gotten to the rest of the world…

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good cyberpunk look
  • Combat has a nice flow
  • A challenge - even on so called Easy mode
Cons:
  • Nothing new here really
  • A lack of an online community
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, PQube
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 8 April 2024 | £16.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good cyberpunk look</li> <li>Combat has a nice flow</li> <li>A challenge - even on so called Easy mode</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Nothing new here really</li> <li>A lack of an online community</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, PQube</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 8 April 2024 | £16.99</li> </ul>ArcRunner Review
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