Previews

I beat a skeleton to death with my own severed arm — a Rune II preview

It’s been 19 years since the first Rune game came out in the year 2000. I was 10 years old at the time, and all I remember about playing it on my low-res, hilariously sized desktop is that I kept getting killed by evil flowers. But all these years later, and after several name changes and years in development, Rune II looks to be a very different game, which sets itself apart with its unique blend of survival mechanics, Souls-like combat, and elements of a rogue-like game.

Rune II begins with the return of Loki from the first game (impressively voice acted by the same guy from the original), who begins Ragnarok and destroys the Norse world. After being revived in a different age, it’s up to you to put an end to Loki before he kills you…again. Each time you’re revived, you find yourself in a new “Age,” where Loki’s machinations have taken on a unique form, and which present unique challenges. In one such Age, the land is covered in poison, but by questing through it, you’re sure to find lots of poison-based weapons to help you in other Ages where more enemies might be weak to poison. Each Age lasts for only a small amount of time before the world is destroyed, and if you’re unable to stop Loki before that time elapses, then you’ll die and be resurrected during the subsequent Age. As you progress, you’ll keep your equipment, skills, levels, etc. until eventually you’re mighty enough to bring Loki down.

Along the way, you’ll need to master various survival mechanics, such as building structures, monitoring your body temperature, hunting and eating, and more. But when you’re not building a log cabin or eating psychedelic mushrooms, you’ll be fighting enemies…lots of them. And they seriously do not mess around. You may be a God with powerful abilities given to you by Thor, Odin, and others, but you quickly learn that there’s no substitute for a few guys with swords lopping your legs off and beating you to death while you wriggle in place. Of course, your God powers will let you regrow limbs after you’ve healed a bit, and it’s not as if your character isn’t a force to be reckoned with in his own right…but you should probably prepare yourself for the bitter taste of defeat a few hundred times before you put Loki in his grave.

But the real fun in Rune II is that you won’t have to face the gnashing teeth of the endless hordes by yourself, because the entire game can be played in co-op. Human Head Studios is targeting 4 players, but says they won’t put any hard cap on that, so if you want to start a private server and give Loki a run for his money in 8-player co-op, you can go ahead and embrace that absolute madness. The game will also have a deathmatch mode, where players can slice one another into small pieces, and then throw those pieces at one another for sport. Good times!

From my time playing Rune II, I found it to be unpolished, unpredictable, and sometimes downright ridiculous — and that’s a good thing. It’s the kind of over-the-top game that doesn’t care if it has the best graphics or the most balanced or fluid gameplay system. They’d rather put you in a chaotic world filled with danger and clunky, weird mechanics, and just see what interesting situations arise from that, and if you go into it with an open mind and a sense of adventure, then you’re bound to find some extremely memorable moments in there.

Rune II will launch this summer exclusively on the Epic Games Store. For more information on Rune II as it develops, keep reading Gaming Trend.

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