The BIT. TRIP series, up until this game, was a collection of weird experiences presented in an 8-bit style. None of them so far had direct sequels, until on February 26th, 2013, when BIT. TRIP RUNNER got a sequel that was presented in a modern 3D style, just because Gaijin Games (now known as Choice Provisions) wanted to.
The game is divided into five worlds, each one with a new aesthetic feel. Everything is alive in this game; the trees, the barrels, and even the hills, which makes the game more quirky than it already is. You have a world in the sky, a dock, a forest – simple things like that, but it doesn’t do them justice if you distill the world to what the general theme is. There’s much more than that. It’s quite a wacky romp, and the weird yet stunning clayish graphics help convey that.
What is this game, then? It’s a side-scrolling platformer where Commander Video (or your character of choice) needs to jump, slide, glide, kick, grind on rails, and many other abilities you get throughout the course of the game. This makes the gameplay not go stale quickly because of how new mechanics always switch things up, not only testing your reflexes, but it’s an insane amount of fun to overcome challenges that you wouldn’t have been able to overcome before. It’s the simplest kind of progression.
Speaking of progression, the way this game does it is brilliant. There are three difficulty settings that you can switch at any time, which not only alleviates frustration, but also makes the game throw its worst at rhythm game diehards. You can also Perfect a stage by collecting all the gold bars where you can then Perfect+ the level by getting a bull’s-eye on a dartboard, which you can do for each difficulty to get a Triple Perfect+ if you really want to.
You can either go through the game as quick as you possibly can, or unlock all the costumes and levels by opening chests scattered around in some levels (with some needing a key to open the chests by beating the Key Vaults in each world) or going an alternative pathway to reach a stage off the beaten path. There’s even leaderboards for you to try and get the high scores for every stage.
There are twenty regular levels in each world, but there are five retro levels that harken back to the original BIT. TRIP games. Just get to the end of the stage to beat it and get a winning “conglaturations”. There’s also a special reward for beating all twenty-five levels, which is quite a cool addition. The retro tunes really make it seem retro, which is a nice touch.
And how I have gone so long without bringing up the amazing soundtrack, I don’t even know. There’s an underlying beat that matches with your actions, with all of the other melodic bits added on top to create music that fits the mood of the level, no questions asked.
Without a doubt, Runner2 is one of my favourite indie games. It goes at your pace because of its fantastic design choices and doesn’t end up tripping over itself near the end of the game. I recommend it to absolutely anybody, and because of the broad selection of platforms it’s on, I’d say you should go for it. BIT. TRIP COMPLETE would be the next game I’d review if I ever returned to the series, but that would not be for quite a while. I’m looking forward to the return trip, though.