There’s nothing particularly subtle about Runic Rampage, a Rogue-like hack and slash indie from first time developer Electrocosmos, but that is one of the strengths of the game. There’s not much when it comes to eye-candy or bells and whistles, so everything rests on how good the combat feels and how well the action flows. Over the four acts that make up the game, the action flows pretty damn well.
You play a red-bearded dwarf. There’s some sort of eminently skippable story about dwarf kings, broken crowns and divided peoples, but it’s not really something you will find yourself paying attention to. Instead, you spend your time smashing enemies into gibs, searching the levels for hidden shrines and keys, and trying to finish a level as quickly as possible so as to maximise your rewards and advancement. Best played with a controller, Runic Rampage features a simple but compelling combat system that bases moves on the combination and length of attack and dash inputs. A tap of the attack button triggers a simple attack and a few taps in a row a basic combo. Holding the attack button delivers a heavy attack. Attack and dash together perform an uppercut, two fast dashes perform a jumping attack, two attacks and a dash a spinning attack and so on. The developers have managed to fit in a lot of combat options with only two active buttons.
The third button is used for magic – an attack or buff powered by tokens dropped by enemies. Rather than equipping a single magic effect, new powers are unlocked through the game and through levelling and which is available is down to what activation token drops. Effects range from simply adding fire damage, to erecting walls of ice or freezing enemies in place (probably the most useful of all magics).
After each level is completed the player is scored on how fast they completed the level, how many enemies were killed, if they managed to get a 30+ hit combo, and discovered the hidden shrine. The higher the score, the more options players have to choose from the six randomly chosen rewards offered. Gold is used to buy new weapons and magic or upgrade existing weapons and magic. Armour can only be upgraded by finding all the components of an armour set. Runic fragments unlock the boss at the end of an act. This is where the RNG core of Runic Rampage falls down a little. The armour sets are more a completionist thing, so not having all the pieces doesn’t overly impact the flow of the game, but having to rely on RNG to unlock bosses is very frustrating.
There isn’t a whole heap of replayability in Runic Rampage, and the game, RNG willing, isn’t that long, but if you’re a fan of a bit of hack and slash, and have seven or so dollars to spare, you could definitely do much worse. It may not be a deep, immersive game, but while you’re playing it’s a great distraction.