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About This Game

Runers is a top-down rogue-like dungeon shooter where you explore a vast underground labyrinth and face fierce monsters and bosses. As the game advances further into the dungeon, you will gather Runes, which will be used to combine into 285 unique spells. Discovering new spells will unlock their entries in your Runedex; unlock them all! But be careful – if you die, your playthrough is finished.

We wanted to make a game that had a lot of replayability, customization, and discovery. Almost every design choice we made focused on furthering those three goals. We want the player to be able to choose the playing style that suits them: long range sniper, mid range run and gun, or an up close brawler. There are many features to facilitate this level of customization. When you earn enough experience you will level up and be able to choose from 4 random traits to make you even stronger.

Each floor is procedurally generated, so the enemies, rooms, event rooms, and bosses you face are all randomly chosen, making every playthrough different. You will not encounter everything in the game in one playthrough, or even five: there is always something new to encounter.

  • Each floor and room is completely randomized – each run will be a different experience
  • Choose from 20 Races and 20 Classes to customize your runs
  • Runes have unique stats that modify the spells you create with them
  • Choose from 285 different spells to build your own unique spell loadouts
  • Upgrade your spells to make them even stronger
  • 50 different traits to choose from when leveling up
  • 10 procedurally generated floors to explore and fight through
  • 15+ random bosses and 100+ random enemies to fight
  • Numerous Challenges, Event Rooms, and Achievements to complete
  • Defeating enemies unlocks entries in your Beastiary
  • 5 difficulties to increase the challenge

Title: Runers
Genre: Indie, RPG
LGK Games
Release Date: 2 Sep, 2014


Runers is a game of surprising depth. While not the most hectic Shmup, it is a very tactical one; every choice of spell is worthy of consideration, and the replay value is huge. You begin with a single spell, but as you uncover new rune combinations over the course of your playthoughs, you can optimize and strategize your favorite abilities. Some spells are crap, but with the right bit of luck you can stack a stat to astronomical levels and change the way an old familiar one will play. This game is absolutely worth the price of admission normally, but it's on sale: you have no reason not to pick this up.. Below you'll find a very in-deph, analytical video review of Runers, and below that a review in written form, should you prefer text over video.
Asthetics: Decent pixel art style that seems rather generic due to low variety. Especially the floor, the walls and the spelly icons look particularly bad. The spell effects themselves are rather pretty though. Very simple, no doubt about it, however this simplicity also allows for easier recognition (as enemies use the same spells).
Sound design: Overall average. The sound effects are again generic, but what you would expect. Water drops create satisfying splash sounds, lightning sparks like broken electricity and fire spews crackling sounds of a train running on charcoal. A gripe worth mentioning here is the forgetable music, which ranges from alien space tunes while fighting in old ruins (huh?) to base heavy tunes in the depths of hell. Luckily the game does have a seperate music switch to turn off the music and play a choice of your own music in the background. I highly recommend playing heavy rock or metal, as I found it most fun to slaughter monsters alongside.
Gameplay: The heart of Runers and by far the strongest component that carries the game. Before starting a new run (due to the permadeath mechanic of roguelikes), you create a character based on one out of 20 classes and one out of 20 races, which influence how you try to develop your character. Afterwards you are dropped into a procedurally generated dungeon, where you face hordes of monsters with distinct abilities and strategies to defeat them. There are also several special rooms you can find. Certain rooms have an aura attached to them that randomly affects your (and the monsters!) stats, either by lowering them or by increasing them. There are challenge rooms that completely change the objective, for example protecting a portal or dodging fireballs. On some floors a boss awaits you. These fights are particularly interesting as most bosses require a special strategy to defeat. For a great example, please watch the video and the fight against the Air boss Nimbirrus.
While defeating enemies, you will find an array of drops. Among them Runers, Double and Triple Combiners. The Runes can either be used on their own to upgrade an existing spell or in conjuction with a combiner to create an entirely new spell from a pool of 285 spells! After unlocking all double and a reasonable amount of triple spells, I can honestly say that a lot of spells play very differently and this whole spell crafting system adds a really fun layer of exploration ontop of the game. There are some weaker points in terms of gameplay too however. Completing a floor or reaching a level up rewards you with a choice of four possible upgrades, which can be runes, rune level, combiners or passive upgrades (the latter for level ups). As the passive upgrades are mere stat upgrades, completing a floor does not feel rewarding enough on itself.

TL;DR: Overall, Runers is an honestly brilliant action roguelike with an incredibly in-depth spell crafting system and a huge variety. The small gripes I have in terms of asthetics, sound design and unrewarding level ups do not diminish my very positive opinion of Runers. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you are into roguelikes like Binding of Isaac, Our Darker Purpose or A Wizard's Lizard.. Runers has high hopes, and a fantastic spell crafting system, but is held back in just a few too many ways.

The game is full of strange design decisions. For example rune combiners are needed only for new spells. This means that early on in your play of Runers you will find yourself unable to create many complex spells, and once you have died a few times and unlocked a lot of spells, you find yourself with combiners falling out of your pockets. My question is why? Surely the game would play better if combiners were always required but were more common? Then you'd have to be careful about which complex spells you created, and would make each run more varied.

Then there's the fact that drops are completely random. I can kill an air mage and get an earth rune! There's no rhyme nor reason for anything, and as such each run tends to blur together.

Sound levels are also just strange. Some enemies are much much louder than others. Some barely audible, others annoyingly loud. And this happens on every single 'I got hit', not just for special attacks or anything. Oh, also, your character doesn't have a 'I got hit' noise. That's rather important, and yet entirely missing. The music is really quiet. Again, this is odd because they sell a soundtrack edition, so clearly they're proud of it.

You can rebind keys*. You will want to do this, since hitting 1-4 while using wsad to move is rather lethal. *Caveat: However, you can't rebind the left and right click spells. Which is odd, because they end up being the spells you click the least often, since they have an autofire option.

The whole pace of the game is bloody fast. It's a test more of reaction speed than skill, most of the time. The main thing is movement speed. You move fast, your enemies move fast. So fast, in fact, that it's hard to control. The game suggests that you can use destructible objects as cover, but I genuinely had a hard time stopping behind them with any sense of consistency. It's that fast. I don't think this is a good thing, not at all.

There can be a lot going on in fights, and you just don't have the time to comprehend it. After level three there's a miniboss, called the bombadier. He throws bombs. Makes sense, right? Except that he also throws fans of knives. And he also summons randomly spawning rocks throughout the room. And also there's at least four different types of bombs he spawns. Also he can run very fast, and spends most of his time off-screen while you're frantically trying to figure out if this bomb explodes in a + or an X, so you can't even throw incidental damage at him while dodging. And this is just a miniboss!

Enemies can spawn in huge clusters right near the doors, giving you no time to react. If you get mobbed you're kind of in a spot. Unless you have a knockback spell equipped then you have to physics your way out of them. It's nice that you can<\/i> push enemies around, but the game is so quick that often it's all you have time to do.

When you level up, the game waits to tell you until after the fight. This is pretty great. It automatically pops up the box that gives you the choice of perk and you don't have to worry about getting mobbed the moment you click one. However, the game also doesn't let you click anything until it finishes playing the 'you levelled up' ditty. It just... stops for a moment.

The spells. My goodness, the spells are so good. You can make one-, two- or three-element spells, with repeats allowed. The game tells me that's a total of 285 spells, and I believe it. You start off knowing all of the one-element spells, and I have crafted all of the two-element ones and a half-dozen of the threes, and they're very well varied. There's direct damage spells, aoe spells, buffs, debuffs, you name it.

This is where the wonderful variety of statistics comes into play. You have damage and bullet speed and bullet duration and size and dot damage and knockback to name just a few that appear on spells, and then characters have movespeed and health and armour and elemental skill and crit chance and density and so many others that there is just a whole heap of room for spells to be different in! It's great!

The game makes you feel like a pretty badass wizard, and I have to commend it for that. It's really fantastic in that respect. It's one of the best games I've ever played like that.

Level design is good and varied. Each arena is different enough to feel interesting, and the enemies with zones of effect are just the right size to have an impact and let you play around.

Enemy AI seems pretty smart. If you go invulnerable then they run away from you. They can try to dodge bullets, especially elites.

Bosses are hugely varied, but, again, perhaps a little too busy. There is an awful lot going on in any boss fight, and it gets very hard to follow very quickly. This was my experience in the first boss I encountered: "Oh, so he's immune to damage? Okay, I'll wait it out. It's not ending. Oh, so I can stand on his head to hurt him. King of the hill, no problem. Okay, so those are knockback attacks bouncing around. Makes sense, this is the storm boss. Okay, so bouncing off the walls deals damage? or is it those red areas? Okay, so dodging is hard when his face covers the spells, but almost down to the last quarter and- oh. Dead. So he shoots lightning at the end, centred on his head, where I had to have been standing to damage him up until this point. Well that's good to know if I ever have to fight him again. Back to floor one again." And this hasn't been an isolated incident, this has happened with just about every boss. There's just no way of knowing what the attacks are going to do, or what hurts or where to stand. There's no telegraphing.

I encountered a fair number of bugs, but the devs seem to be working on most of them. It's a small team, so this is entirely understandable and I don't hold it against them.

And now for the nail in the coffin. My final comment: The art is... There's no two ways about this: it's really bad.

There is a grand total of one, yes: one, casting animation. In a game about casting spells. A firepit is a reddish smudge, a mudslide is a brownish smudge, ice is, you guessed it, a bluish smudge. An air elemental, a creature, is a whitish smudge Every other creature in the game is done in pixel art, but not the air elementals. This is probably my biggest gripe with the game. I think that hiring a professional artist could double, perhaps even triple the quality of the game.

Now you could argue that it's going for a "retro pixel style", but that doesn't stop it from being a terrible example of such. The only animations that you ever see are: walking in the four cardinal directions, walking while shooting in four cardinal directions. And notice that that's the direction you're shooting. The animation's the same no matter which way you're going if you're shooting, say, to the right. That's it, that's all there is. And it's not even a particularly good walk animation, just leg up, leg down. Standing still is even just a still frame from the walk animation, as far as I can tell.

So, the verdict. Is it worth your money? Not at the moment. Perhaps after a few patches, and preferably a makeover, then I could recommend it, but not as it currently stands.

I will edit this review if anything changes.. To briefly review the game as a whole:

Runers is a rogue-like 2D dungeon based game (similar to Binding Of Isaac, but more fast paced). Your attacks are created through runes you find and combine, which have single, double, and triple spells. There are also various combinations of passive and active abilities that you can choose from at the beginning. Fight through 10 rooms, 4 bosses and hordes of enemies.


Hundreds of spells that can be made provide tons of incentive to play and experiment. A solid tagging system for spells allows you too create spells in a create category, even if you don't know exactly what it does.

High replayabilty and challenge. Many challenge modes and secrets to unlock, probably hundred of hours to unlock everything.

Fun, fast and interesting spells that enemies can use (which can always be discovered by you) which create unique challenges every room.

Local Multiplayer makes for great games with friends.


Can be tedious to unlock tier 3 spells

Boss difficulty not well scaled. Some bosses massively more difficult than other of the same tier.

Many spells are realistically non-viable, though may be better with specific builds

RNG can easily kill you (many of your death may come as a complete surprise)

No online play

Overall, a very fun game if you like rogue-likes with high diversity and replayability

7\/10. Runers is an interesting one.... easily one of the stranger games in this genre, but it comes with alot of really interesting and unique mechanics that truly set it apart from everything else.

The basic gameplay is what you'd expect out of this. Twin-stick shooting, while dodging a bazillion enemy projectiles and other things. Clear each room to continue through the labyrinth. Beat a boss every few floors. You know the drill.

Where Runers goes off the track though is.... everything else. The core of the game is it's unique spell system. Instead of having some single basic attack to shoot with as in many of these games, there are nearly 300 different spells to use against your foes. There's all sorts here... rapid-fire bullets (that most basic of shot types), debuff fields, supernovas, and all sorts of very screwy spells for you to find. The sheer variety on offer here is pretty amazing. In addition to that, before each run you'll select a character race and class, each doing something different, and there are a TON of them. All of this means that you can have an incredibly different experience each run.

The core mechanic is focused on the runes that you'll find as you wander the maze. A varitey of elements from air to force to speed or whatever. When you combine runes with each other, you get a spell that you can then place into one of your available casting slots. When combining, most of the time you'll be using two or three runes at a time... as this is how you get the really interesting stuff.... but even just dropping one rune into the combiner will give you another super-basic shot to use, and those are important too. With so many different rune types, there are boatloads of combinations to find here.

However, you cant just throw these things in and start combining right away. Not at first, anyway, and this is where we get to the permanent progression aspect of the game. At first, all spells except the one-rune ones will be locked. Try to smash together a locked combination of runes and it wont do anything at all. You need to find either a double or triple combiner, which will allow you to slap together runes into a combination you have not yet tried yet, permanently unlocking whatever the resulting spell is. Once a spell is unlocked, you can then create it whenever you want without needing combiners, and this carries over through all of your runs. This means that early on, you're going to have a very hard time getting new spells, as combiners dont drop very often. The more you play, the more spells you'll unlock, and the more spell crafting you'll be able to do. You'll really be able to dive into the spell mechanics the further you get. However, this unlock process could create some frustration for you when you're starting out, just because you'll have so few options. But, it also creates an easier learning curve... the game isnt just dumping a list of 300 spells on you and saying "GOOD LUCK!". The slow unlocking makes sure you have time to really get a handle on what each one does, and the progression is satisfying. But yeah, the difficulty will definitely be higher when you have few spells unlocked.

Speaking of difficulty, there are many to choose from, so the game can range from "hard" to 'bloody absurd". This is a tough game no matter how you put it. There are LOTS of enemies, and they fire LOTS of bullets and spells and screwy things at you. Having some 30+ monsters in a single room is definitely not a rare occurance. Fortunately, you still have lots of room to dodge, as both you and most monsters are pretty small. The game can definitely have a bit of a bullet-hell feel to it, due to the sheer lunacy that the combat can produce. And you'll have to get to know the enemies, too. Enemy attack patterns are.... fairly simple. Yet even despite this, each type stands out, and you'll have to properly learn to deal with each. Entropy mages for instance are one of the more irritating things you'll find early on; they fire bizarrely inaccurate spells that hit you more BECAUSE they're inaccurate. Or there's bats, with their wonky arcing movement that make it easy to crash into them. Or the Sucky Werewolves (that's what I call them anyway) which dash up near you, and create a vortex centered on themselves, pulling you in and making you easier for other enemies to hit. Some enemies get extra creative, like skeletons, which collapse into a heap of bones when defeated, which you must go and then stomp on to finish them off or they get back up. Or treants, which turn into trees when killed, but the trees can take damage and if they pop, they become a monster again.

The bosses are creative too, which is a nice thing to see. For the most part these fights are well done, and stand out quite a bit from the rest of the gameplay. Minibosses though are the foes that can be a bit of an issue. These guys are rare, and encountered in unexpected places, and while they'll be the only monster in the room, they'll cause so much utter chaos that there may as well be 50 mages in the room. These guys are BRUTAL, perhaps a bit too much, and that could be cause for some major frustration. Some tweaks could have fixed these, but those wont be coming.

And the game definitely has some screwy balance issues like that. I dont mean the spells. I mean other things. For instance, bonuses that you can choose from upon levelling up range from "Wow that's great" to "it's like I'm not even getting anything". This is one of those games where the developer doesnt seem to have grasped the art of handling percentages when dealing with stat changes. Getting something like a levelup bonus that gives you a whopping 2% movement speed increase isnt uncommon here... and a number like that means that the effect isnt even going to be noticable. Wheras other bonuses might almost be too good. The same goes for races, classes, and other things. And there's some types of event rooms that are a little broken as well (you'll learn which ones these are really fast). Fortunately THOSE are optional, you dont have to start the event if you dont want to.

Actual spell balance is better. Alot of that is going to be up to you and your own personal playstyle. A spell that one player thinks is good, might be one that you just hate. Yeah, it's that sort of game. Experimentation is key here, and there are plenty of spells that will be situational, so choosing the right ones for your current setup is very important. On top of that, there is a mechanic in place where you can stick runes into spells you already have to power them up, which is even more decision-making for you to do, and even more ways for your build to be customized as you play. It's an excellent mechanic that works well, and gives you ever more things to do with all of those runes you'll be filling your inventory with.

Balance issues aside, one other thing I need to mention is the graphics. I personally dont really give a fart about graphics, but if you're the sort of player that does, this game absolutely is not for you. And the final negative thing is actually the controller support. It is... a little borked. There are two problems with it: 1, there's this bizarre tendancy for your aim to "snap" to the 4 cardinal directions... it's very hard to explain, but you'll see what I mean the moment you start the game. And 2, there are some spells that target the cursor, and while that's absolutely fine with a mouse, trying to control their placement with a controller is like trying to herd cats. You can get used to these things, but one way or another, a mouse/keyboard is the way to go here.

Overall, Runers is a criminally overlooked game with tons of fun and depth to offer you. It's one of those ones that I'm going to keep constantly coming back to, and honestly.... it's just alot of fun. Really though those entropy mages are jerks. So are the bats.. Runers has a lot of potential. The runes and spell combining system is really cool! I liked discovering new spells and trying them out. Level up bonuses are....weird, but not in a bad way. There are some great ideas, but this game is broken by major, major flaws that never should have made it out of alpha testing.

1) The sound effects. Dear God. When you fire two bullets every 0.7 seconds, they should not each be ear-splitting "ZWOOOOOP"s. If you're killing fifty enemies every room, don't make every one ♥♥♥♥ing scream in agony. The sound design in this game is so bad that it's funny, until you're actually playing it and actually have to turn off the audio because it's hurting your ears.

2) Tedium. Why are there half a dozen destructables in every room that serve absolutely no purpose at all except to make you stand in front of them, mindlessly firing into them as they slowly run out of health? If you want upgrades, you have to destroy them all, every time. Devs, did you actually play this? Did you find this fun? Or was it boring as hell?

3) Cooldowns. You have a 60-second "big" cooldown in addition to your fast spells. The optimal play is to use it every room, then simply wait for the cooldown to elapse before venturing into the next room. Pro tip for devs: don't ever make the best play the least interesting (see point 2). Have all cooldowns reset when you clear a room. Basic♥♥♥♥♥♥

I cannot recommend Runers in good conscience. Reinstall Binding of Isacc and play that instead. It's better-designed in every way, and a heck of a lot more fun.. Runers is a game of surprising depth. While not the most hectic Shmup, it is a very tactical one; every choice of spell is worthy of consideration, and the replay value is huge. You begin with a single spell, but as you uncover new rune combinations over the course of your playthoughs, you can optimize and strategize your favorite abilities. Some spells are crap, but with the right bit of luck you can stack a stat to astronomical levels and change the way an old familiar one will play. This game is absolutely worth the price of admission normally, but it's on sale: you have no reason not to pick this up.

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