Published on May 11th, 2024 | by Benjamin Norsworthy

Arc Runner PS5 Review @TrickjumpGames

Arc Runner PS5 Review @TrickjumpGames Benjamin Norsworthy

Summary: Arc Runner on PlayStation 5 is a Retro Returnal


Retro Returnal

If Cyberpunk 2077 and Returnal made a baby and raised that child in a roller rink from the 1990s, you would have the general vibe of Arc Runner.  This 3rd person, action rouge-lite from TrickJump Games and PQube, blends the now commonplace grind of modern gaming with the quirky simplicity of the retro arcade days.  Playing as a robot skeleton with the implanted consciousness of a soldier and hip fashion sense, you’ll find yourself awakened on a space station that has been infected by a computer virus which, of course, turns all of the automaton inhabitants into robot zombies that shoot first and ask questions later.  You’ll be put in control of the Arc Runner class of your choosing, and dropped onto the streets of The Arc as the station’s mechanical savior.  As the game’s tag line suggests, you will fight, die, upgrade, and repeat.

I run my PS5 through a Samsung QLED Q80T; the game looks very vibrant, the lighting effects are decent, and the character models are pretty good but don’t expect this game to hit current-gen AAA levels of graphical detail.  While the FPS seem to hit 60 well enough, I noticed some frame rate drops at the start of every level and occasionally during combat which is fairly annoying in any action shooter of this nature.  Frame stagger really becomes a problem when you combine it with the fact the controls don’t feel great.  No matter how much I played with the limited control options, things never felt that good; not bad, but I was never totally comfortable.  The audio is nothing special.  All the booms and pows are what you would expect and the music fits the retro arcade feel but don’t expect to have a great auditory sense of enemy location.

The thing that caught my attention was the neon jungle that surrounded my character in the first of 3 “biomes” known as The City.  The City is reminiscent of a futuristic downtown Tokyo; it’s a bit much at times but still captures the sci-fi feel the game aims to capture.  All 3 biomes have several different sections each with it’s own mildly randomized map but you’ll definitely notice a reoccurring theme as you play through the small linear sections over and over.  Every section seems to have a secondary challenge area that offers up a quick trial to overcome which, upon success, will unlock a loot chest.  These are super handy since they always offer up the choice of health kits, armor, weapons, or nanites.  What’s a nantie?  Glad you asked because that brings us to the “die” portion the game.

Like any rouge-lite, you will die and start over.  A lot.  Get used to it.  The beauty of death, in a game like Arc Runner, is you are given the opportunity to use the goodies you’ve acquired to upgrade your character.  As you progress, you’ll gather nanites by completing map sections or simply finding them in game.  These nanites are spent on passive skills that remain with you after death, even if you decide to swap to one of the other classes, of which there are 3 (more on this soon).  The skill choices are your standard fare; extra damage, more health, better recharge rates, etc. They all feel impactful and there are plenty of options to tweak your play style and keep you grinding your way through the Arc.  I chose the Soldier class to start, your typical tank character.  It comes complete with a energy shield to block enemy fire and a large hammer for melee.  After a few deaths I decided to try the Ninja.  Turns out, having a katana and the ability to turn invisible is more my style.  The class I REALLY wanted to try was the Hacker but, much to my dismay, this class is locked behind an achievement that, as of this writing, I have not completed.

All in all, Arc Runner gets a lot of things right.  A surprisingly extensive collection of weapons that can be unlocked for future use, all of which spawn with a variety of abilities and different rarities.  The main skills feel great and you get a new mod after every map section; you’ll lose those mods after death but they can stack and offer great bonuses.  The multiplayer seems to work well but is almost a requirement with how difficult this game can become running solo.  If you like sci-fi shoot ‘em ups and need to scratch the gear grind itch, this game with sooth that urge, you can even bring a friend or two.  I enjoyed the throwback, arcade feel so I am definitely going to keep playing Arc Runner……I need to unlock that Hacker class.

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