Unkle Dill in all his magnificent horrifying glory, wearing his special unlockable attire. Special request of the developer as the caricature to accompany this review.
When it came to sit down and write a review for Choice Provisions new title in the Bit.Trip Runner series, I was wondering just how I would start. It's best started with just an experience, I had a genuine moment where my hands were shaking after I overcame a magnificently challenging section in Runner 3, it was at this moment that I saw Runner 3 for what it truly is, a delightfully weird, wonderful and chaotic (just one more go) game. I found myself about 30 attempts deep into a level, (after a long days work) and I could not give it up until I got the win. Runner 3 is not for the faint of heart, at times it produces crushing difficulty spikes. But I always picked myself up and tried again, when I got into my groove I found myself accomplishing feats and saying 'I cannot believe I actually just did that'. The game is wonderful, allow me to explain.
The story is, well you are commander video and you are fighting for love and happiness and really every time you hear the narrator (Charles Martinet - oh yes, he's back, and playable as a character no less) you just want more. You really came for the platforming and you will not be disappointed, it certainly builds upon previous entries in the Runner series. There are normal runs and Gem runs, the latter of which rewards you with fuel to unlock more content and provides a harder but equally rewarding challenge. There are vehicle sections which are so satisfying, changing the pace in the level and often provide different camera angles, shaking things up somewhat. The boss battles are interesting and once understanding the mechanic in play, provide a unique and welcome return to the series.
A slight letdown for me was load times in menus. This has no baring on anything in the levels themselves or navigating in worlds. While they are not massive times they add up and I often wanted to swap around worlds, attempting old challenges with my new platforming prowess. Going hunting for secrets or just attempting something easier after feeling disheartened on a nail-biting challenge.
You are thrown new mechanics at a fairly frequent pace, with new challenges met often, but very rarely did this ever feel unfair. I felt challenged but I relished it, often memorising whole sections of jumps with pinpoint accuracy and upon completion thinking someone might kick down the door and hand me a medal for my achievement. There is just so much to do in this game, collectables galore and if you are enticed into playing levels again for completionists, you may be here for a while. There is a wonderful non-running platformer mini-game hidden until finding all VHS tapes and it beefs the game up significantly, worth the hunting.
My wife can easily attest to the fact that there were levels where I would die over and over just experimenting and getting timing down or just lost in the world Choice Provisions has built. The music, the art flows together so well and makes playing a level again and again never a chore but a joy. Each world is layered with it's own charm and characters, making them stand as hard work, carefully and meticulously planned out with your enjoyment in mind, you know people had fun making this - it's clear from every facet on display.
I played on the Switch and in both portable and docked, it runs buttery smooth either way but I preferred playing docked, so as to enjoy the beautiful visuals and to better identify simply everything happening on screen. They really upped their game with Runner 3 and it's got me hooked, I cannot wait to keep playing and keep my rhythm skills sharp.
Runner 3 releases digitally on Nintendo eshop May 22nd for £23.79 or preorder for 15% off.