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  • Writer's pictureOle Gamer Joe

RUNGORE Review | A Wild Card Game I Never Knew I Needed!



Rungore Review written by Ole Gamer Joe

PC/Steam (early access)

Release Date: 10/12/2023

Developed by: YOUR_MOM'S_HP, RavenJm


I never thought having a case of the runs could be so much fun! Where does one begin with RUNGORE? It is a card game, yes, but not in the traditional sense. Here you'll be endlessly running forward through sewers, graveyards and even Jungles. You'll encounter random monsters and bash away at them auto-battler style while strategically utilizing cards which grant various perks. It doesn't sound so enthralling, does it? And yet I couldn't put this game down. This is also a game that doesn't take itself all that seriously and it's a better game for it.


A screeshot from RUNGORE featuring some of the cards in play and  the knight fighting an enemy.
RUNGORE is a fast and furious card game with equal parts action and strategy.

From the opening tutorial players will be introduced to RUNGORE's off-brand humor, which isn't all that well written and even features a few grammatical errors, but still managed to elicit a chuckle or two out of me. You don't really know where you are or why you are slaying all these random creatures as you trudge onward, and it really doesn't matter. In fact, not to make excuses for the game, but it's the lack of narrative that makes this universe so endearing. You'll begin as a lowly knight but soon enough unlock the likes of a "hungry man" who can damage himself or a bizarre pet lover that carries a fur baby behind him. Unlocking characters is just as random as everything else in RUNGORE, and that includes the cards you are dealt.


Each level of RUNGORE is broken up into different floors, with a map detailing your current location at the top of the screen. Your goal is to slay everything in your path, defeat the final boss at the end of each world, and progress forward through the next level. As you encounter enemies you won't have any control over your attacks per se, rather, you'll be acting as a manager of sorts for your lead character. This is because between each encounter random cards are dropped and it's up to you to select 3 of them. Typically, you'll need attack and healing cards, but every character has a different set and eventually you can even merge or swap characters together for some absolutely bonkers draws.


Will you stock up on attack cards to quickly bash through the next enemy? Or will it be better to play defense? The choice is yours, but things aren't always so cut and dry. Some cards carry penalties for using them, and there are also artifacts that grant you boosts throughout the duration of your run. These artifacts grant benefits such as more HP, higher attack, or faster attack rate. You'll need to pay attention throughout most encounters, as if your health starts dropping, dragging a healing or armor card upward will be paramount to your success. It's a fascinating risk/reward system that works shockingly well and had me on the edge of my seat. Another curve ball that RUNGORE throws at players is random multiple choice segments throughout each level. Choose wisely, or you might get totally screwed over. On the flipside, making good choices, which aren't always what they seem, can net some amazing stat boosts and other benefits. In a way, you could even think of RUNGORE as a strategy game. Pretty much anyone can play, but it will take a good deal of strategizing and thinking to succeed most of the time. Controls are as simple as dragging cards upward with your mouse, and that's really about it. If you opt to play on Steam Deck, you'll have the ability to use the right mouse pad, or my preferred method-- touch screen. Personally, I enjoyed playing on my PC with a mouse, but there are options here for handheld lovers that are serviceable enough.


RUNGORE battle with far too many enemies to count.
Battles get chaotic pretty quickly with tons of enemies on screen!

Between levels you have a main hub where you can shop for new items and equipment using gold that is acquired on each run. Equipment upgrades and potions are obviously helpful, but there are other interesting perks like the ability to draw cards using numbers on your keyboard, or you can even have more cards sorted into your deck. Some of these abilities overlap between characters while others are exclusive to them. Being an early access release RUNGORE currently has 7 of a planned 15 characters to discover, 12 different levels with more to be added, over 100 enemies and different events, and plenty of boss encounters. All told you will be pleased with the vast amount of content currently available especially considering this is an early access release.


RUNGORE is an absolute blast to play, and feverishly addicting. I sat down for a quick session initially only to soon discover 2 hours had gone by and my pants were still in the dryer. This is a challenging game yes, and you will make mistakes, but the "one more run" mentality quickly sinks in. Due to the fact that a run doesn't necessarily take all that long, it's easy to get lost in RUNGORE for hours. You may also be mesmerized by its pixelated graphics, which feel strangely familiar, yet not out of place at all in 2023. Sure, you'll be seeing the same scrolling backgrounds time and time again, but the game animates well and has plenty of charm and personality in its visual design. I love the different creature designs, or the cards themselves which are beautifully detailed and easy enough to read and understand. The presentation in RUNGORE is impressive, and while it carries an old school style, this is definitely a game that stands out and is recognizable on its own almost instantly.


A screenshot of some of the cards available in RUNGORE
A sample of the cards available in Rungore

As much as I love RUNGORE, it is not perfect. Grammatical errors were scattered about here or there as I previously mentioned, but I also found that the balance could be a touch off on certain boss encounters. Some of these battles become so manic that I couldn't even tell what was going on, which resulted in me spamming card after card in hopes of achieving victory. Sometimes this worked to great effect, and other times it sent me to an early grave. These moments aren't frequent but did add a bit of stress to what is typically a somewhat relaxing stress-free experience. I know that sounds crazy looking at the game in action, but it's really quite easy to vibe out to RUNGORE for hours without even thinking about it.


I would also say that the sound design is very well executed but the soundtrack has a bit of a dubstep vibe to it that wasn't my favorite. Even still I appreciate how the audio is implemented, rising in volume as you battle before seeping off into the background upon victory. Factoring everything, RUNGORE offers great visual and audio design despite the music not being my genre of choice.


If you couldn't tell, I really loved this game. The exciting part is that this is just early access and things will only improve further. RUNGORE scratches an itch not many games manage to, offering an addicting gameplay loop, fun visuals and compelling unlockables that make it an easy recommendation to almost anyone who loves indie games, even in early access.


Pros:

+ Great visuals and audio design

+ Simplistic gameplay requires you to think

+ Lots of content for early access


Cons

- Spelling errors

- Music wasn't my cup of tea

- A bit chaotic at times








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