Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages
“Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages” has been in development for over five years, if you can believe it. After spending a few hours in the campaign and assessing the options I had available to me, it clearly showed. “Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages”, for those of you unfortunate enough to have never heard of this quote unquote “little” gem, is a top-down action-RPG set in the vastness of space. It has a twin-stick shooter feel, but it’s got more story than I had expected. Before we take a look at a game that more than doubled its Kickstarter goal (late 2012) in further detail, I’d like to quickly thank Enrique Dryere from Triple-B-Titles for providing me with a free press copy.
While the gameplay is certainly the meat potatoes of the game, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the game’s many modes. The standard thirty-hour campaign will certainly keep you busy, though folks will have other choices either on or offline. “Space Defense League” is probably the most notable, as it plays similarly to a MOBA like “League of Legends”. I was extremely surprised to see this particular mode exist, as it, by itself, could amass quite a following all on its own. “Zombies!” is another fun one, allowing up to four players to team up and survive as long as possible against zombie-esque hull types. “Wave Survival” is somewhat similar, though you can customize the waves to an extent to include only bosses, mass swarms, and the like. “Gladiator” mode is also another similar one in that it acts like a boss gauntlet mode, pitting you and your friends against bosses of increasing difficulty. There’s a few more that I haven’t mentioned (“Deathmatch”, “Spire Battle”, etc.), but they’ll be just as likely to keep you occupied if you need a break from the campaign.
With all of the above in mind, players should probably get their feet wet in the campaign first as it will prepare them for all of the other challenges and scenarios the game has to offer. Scenarios and other modes of play are locked from the get go anyhow, though there is an option to force their unlock, which is nice. I chose to simply play the campaign and about an hour in, I managed to unlock them and create my multiplayer gamer tag. You’ll also unlock a hangar and shop, the former of which can be used to customize multiplayer class loadouts (like in “Call of Duty”) while the latter acts like a research tree. I admit, I was a bit confused when first exposed to all of it. The research tree under the shop menu seems to incorporate real-time like in “EVE Online”, for example, but research can seemingly be sped up by playing the various game modes. Plex, the universal game currency, also plays a role in helping you to unlock new ship hulls and toys to use. Luckily, you can earn Plex by doing just about anything…scenarios, playing the campaign, etc.
When it comes time to actually play, you’ll find a semi-complex interface at work. There’s a bit of a learning curve, both in part to how many different ships and weapons are in the game as well as how many options you’ll have with the ship you currently have. For example, you can move about with either the WASD keys or mouse, while using Q, E, and R to activate special weapons or abilities. There’s a button for afterburners, a button for inertial dampers (think of it as an emergency brake), a button and mouse flick for sidestepping/dodging…it can be a bit overwhelming. The campaign did a great job introducing me to a lot of the concepts at a steady pace, what with both the variety of missions and the funny narrative taking place in the background. I don’t want to spoil too much here, but I’ll simply say that you’ve woken up with an AI in your head by the name of Nero who has an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter. You’ll later discover yourself to be a Sage, complete with unique abilities that include the manipulation of time.
It’s important to stress that this isn’t an open-world RPG. You’ll choose a mission, whether it be in the campaign or a scenario, and attempt to complete it (or in some cases, survive as long as possible). The campaign usually includes a set of bonus objectives, which you’re free to go back and try to complete. Doing so will earn you Plex, so you’ll have another reason to revisit older missions if you’re not a completionist. While some of you may scoff at the fact that this isn’t “Space Pirates and Zombies” or “Galactic Arms Race”, the game more than makes up for it by including more content than you’ll be able to shake a stick at. The fact that you are research/upgrading and earning Plex as you go helps to keep things flowing and gave me a goal to shoot for. Unlike some twin-stick shooters I’ve played, I didn’t feel like these missions or scenarios were meaningless and existed only to kill time.
I’ll make this easy for you, “Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages” is probably one of the best twin-stick shooters I’ve ever played. The sheer amount of content that this game delivers will make you reach for the nearest Tylenol bottle. I honestly felt bad ending the review here, namely because there’s so much I didn’t cover…ship customization, scenario mechanics, challenges, the unique properties in the “Subrostrum” (don’t ask), you name it. There’s something here for everyone and the multiple modes will ensure that you won’t get bored. Gameplay is pretty fast and furious at times and being a bit older, I was more easily prone to sensory overload during intense moments. Luckily, the “Rookie” difficulty level helped to keep things from getting frustrating…though there’s plenty of other difficulty settings in which to choose. I feel it to be an excellent game and very much worth its ten dollar price tag.
Final Verdict: 10/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages” by visiting the following websites: