There’s very few gaming mechanics more enjoyable than being able to screw over one of your gaming compatriots – see Mario Kart Blue Shell or any Worms game, ever. Glitchrunners joins the fray by pitting a group of players against one other, who has the sole job of obliterating them as much as humanly possible. Whilst that premise may seem like a winner, Glitchrunners falls slightly short of that magic formula.
Developer: Torque Studios
Publisher: Green Man Loaded
Reviewed on: (PC, Review Code Provided)
Initially, Toque Studios’ 3D side-scroller seems like it’s making all the right noises. In the game’s main mode, ‘Glitch Run’, up to four players attempt to traverse a level whilst a fifth, known as the ‘Architect’ reins chaos down on them by demolishing buildings, throwing around objects and flexing infuriating special abilities down on them. The whole package is presented well within a cartoony style and controls are basic and very accessible to anyone – including less game-literate family members and your mate who’s already managed to clear out your booze cabinet; we all have one.
Issues begin to arise immediately in this mode because of its local-only multiplayer options. Grabbing a bunch of people to play with isn’t too hard, but the Architect must play via a second screen (and a free second copy of the game). Then it’s a case of linking up the two parties by inputting IP addresses on the relevant machines, making the process a little more inconvenient than perhaps a party game really should be. In fairness the developers have made it as straightforward as they could by displaying instructions clearly and precise, but there’s always that risk of firewalls intervening if your machine is set up a certain way and let’s be honest, who can really be bothered with the hassle on a party game that should be primarily pick up and play.
Once you’ve navigated that hurdle you’ll get a flick through various character styling and naming options before you’re set loose into the game. Your task is to reach the end by charging through a run-the-gauntlet style level with things to smash and ramps to climb, in-turn giving you points as you dodge the incoming fire. In truth, the game feels a little slow paced and uninteresting. You can pick up weapons such as hammers and fish to hit objects with, as well as explosives to help bring down obstacles but whilst there is a lot going on at times, there still feels like a complete lack of urgency due to the fact that death is inevitable and never really that punishing. The novelty of the Architect can be enjoyable, but this too is short lived due to the overbearing power he/she has. If you haven’t got a full party of four players, unleashing your fury will be directed at a singular target which wears thin fast, and because they’ll only respawn and go again you’ll never really win, only delay the inevitable.
The arena mode keeps the action on a single screen with up to four players and this does provide a more appealing party experience, albeit with the simplicity of running around hitting each other. Deathmatch is chaotic and more enjoyable as a result as you aim to reach a number of kills before everyone else. Dynamic intrusions such as trains zipping into the screen keep you on your toes, as does the more platforming orientated levels which add a level of difficulty as you strive to avoid suicide as much as being smashed with a shovel. As with the Gltich Run mode, player numbers can make a big difference to whether the mode works or not. Playing with less than 3 players creates spawn killing issues, as the guy with the weapon continually stomps on your defenseless avatar as you pop back into the level. There’s also two additional arena modes that task you with holding a the powercube as long as possible, and King of The Hill.
Overall Glitchrunners, by its own nature, comes with a lot of hurdles to overcome before it becomes mildly enjoyable – namely getting a large group together and having a second computer handy. Even then, the gameplay isn’t the most riveting and longevity might suffer even after a few goes. Hiding underneath the problems is a genuinely fun title waiting to expose itself, though. With a few more features and some online matchmaking there would be a ton to like, but as it stands there’s plenty of better party alternatives out there to enjoy with your friends.