A neon-lit cyberpunk setting, slick shooting action, and a fun co-op twist that allows up to three players to work together to take down a rogue AI. Yep, ArcRunner offers everything you’d want from a futuristic roguelite to keep players invested in its gaming loop, though it is perhaps guilty of playing things a bit TOO safe with its lack of originality.

Check out some screenshots down below:

ArcRunner is a futuristic third-person shooter which tasks players with one goal: to take down a rogue AI that’s running rampant. This means battling through a variety of cool sci-fi settings, all whilst blasting away at an onslaught of cybernetic enemies that want nothing more than to bring your existence to an end. It’s the tried and tested formula of ‘AI gone bad’ through-and-through so players shouldn’t expect too much originality in the storytelling, but it ticks the right boxes to ensure the endless shooting does have a glimmer of context to it.

At its core, ArcRunner is all about shooting, with your primary goal being to take down the many enemies that fill the areas you’re fighting across. You’re given the choice of two classes to play with initially (with a third unlocking later down the line), with each having their own pros and cons that make them better suited for different playstyles. Do you go with the Soldier that can use a shield to block incoming fire and can batter foes with a hammer to stagger them? Or do you go with the Ninja that’s able to use a stealth cloak to keep out of sight and can also slash enemies quickly with a katana? Each also has access to their own ultimate abilities that charge over time, whilst they can also use the weaponry that’s available in each level. It’s their individual perks that differentiate them though, with each feeling genuinely different to use and allowing players to adopt their own tactics in combat.

The guns at your disposal are pretty handy too, with the player expanding their arsenal the further they progress through each run by completing kill challenges. The enemies you defeat will drop weapons which you can pick up and use (or you can find them in loot boxes), and if you hit a set amount of kills with it, you’ll then be able to use that weapon from the start of your next run. It’s a simple idea, but it does a good job of expanding your arsenal and encouraging players to utilise different weaponry in order to progress. And believe me, you’ll want to do it – whilst the pistol is decent enough to start off with, it won’t take long for enemies to overwhelm you and leave you needing something with a bit more oomph to turn the tide in your favour.

“Up to three players can work together to stop the rogue AI, and believe me, the experience feels a LOT more enjoyable when playing with others.”

You can also scour through loot boxes in levels to find other goodies, with a variety of weapons and gadgets available to help you out in the battlefield. There’s a cooldown effect in place when using these gadgets, but having things like a turret, grenades, or decoys can be a gamechanger when trying to survive. It adds an extra element of strategy to the experience, and whilst ArcRunner’s gameplay loop can often be as simple as shooting, moving, and surviving, it’s always nice when you manage to set yourself up in a formidable position with the right tools in the right places. Just be warned: the cooldown for these can be stupidly long, so don’t be wasteful when using them.

You’re also able to spend the in-game currency (known as Nanites) to purchase permanent upgrades, which is vital to help you progress further through the game. It’s always satisfying to bump up things like your damage, health, and so on, and a lot of the improvements do feel noticeable from the get-go. You’ll also get temporary upgrades when completing an area in the game, with these upgrades making each subsequent run easier. ArcRunner can be a tough game, but it buffs the player up enough so that they never feel like the odds are always against them.

I’ve enjoyed playing ArcRunner so far, but I have found that there’s nothing about the game that feels particularly unique. The shooting, the environments, the progression… they’re all things I’ve seen before in plenty of other roguelites, with the game rarely pushing for originality in its gameplay loop. That’s fine, especially since it’s fun to play and everything is handled competently, but those looking for something exciting or unpredictable might find themselves tiring of the tried-and-tested nature of the game quite quickly. It could do with a few more unlockables to work towards too, if only as a means to keep players invested for the long-term.

Check out some screenshots down below:

But still, there’s something about the game that has kept me coming back so far, whilst it feels even better to play in online co-op. Up to three players can work together to stop the rogue AI, and believe me, the experience feels a LOT more enjoyable when playing with others. Not only does it make it easier, but it allows you to trick enemies, strategize ways to take them down, and ultimately progress further through the game.

I do have to nit-pick about a few little things I noticed before ending this review. For one, it was a little tricky to work out where exactly enemies were at times, with their designs often blending into the environment. There were a few too many occasions where I was getting shot at with no idea where it was coming from, and sure, this could be on me, but I’ve played plenty of similar titles before and not had this problem (and my co-op buddies had the same problem too). I’d argue that it could do with speeding up player progress a little too, especially during the early hours when you don’t have access to your full set of skills. Whilst this didn’t feel so problematic when playing co-op, I can imagine a few solo players may struggle during their first few runs to the point where things might get a little frustrating. Both of these are minor issues in the grand scheme of things, but they’re still things I picked up on when playing.

ArcRunner Review

ArcRunner isn’t the most unique title you’ll play, but it still offers plenty of fun thanks to its slick shooting action and co-op shenanigans. It keeps things relatively simple with its loop of shooting, gathering loot, improving your character, and progressing, but sometimes that’s all you need in a game like this. It’s just a pretty cool experience, and one that’s even better when played in co-op with some pals.

Developer: Trickjump Games
Publisher: PQube
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1575830/ArcRunner/