Normally, if I see the phrase “fun for the whole family” in a game’s description, I know to leave it for people who don’t actually enjoy playing games…or have families. I learned long ago that “fun for the whole family” is what people say when they can’t come up with anything of meaning. “Fun for the whole family” is the entertainment equivalent of “It tastes like chicken.”
Rune Raiders doesn’t taste like chicken. It has some legit, unique selling points, and it’s a game you should check out despite your family’s tastes.
What is it?
Rune Raiders takes a unique approach to turn-based strategy gaming. Your characters actually are runes, each with his/her strengths and abilities. Your elf can shoot far, but has no close-range attack. The heroine has good distance, but only straight ahead. The centaur has two shots and strong defense, but is expensive.
Your goal is to move these heroes (12 types in all) up the game board, turn by turn, defeating enemies and collecting treasure along the way.
How does it work?
After purchasing the heroes to take with you, you place their runes on the board to strategically take advantage of their strengths. Every time you move the team in a certain direction or shift a single rune’s position, it’s considered a move. The fewer moves you take, the better your score.
Once placed, you tap buttons to move the team up, left or right. Each move allows them to attack an enemy within range (indicated by red shading), and to instigate an enemy move/attack. You can also elect to stay put but still attack. Your advancement strategy will be dictated by the enemies you’re facing (who also have varying degrees of attacks, of course) and the obstacles along the way.
The good news is that if a character dies, he/she can be resurrected for gold. The bad news is that spending your hard earned money this way means you’ll have less to hire your next round of heroes. Thankfully, hero upgrades are free, as you just have to move over them on the game board with the hero you want to upgrade. Each hero can be upgraded six times, and you determine the order of the upgrades.
Is it contagious?
Rune Raiders requires a good deal of patience. Although the game is easy to learn and play, coming up with the proper strategy is not quite so simple. The levels require a good deal of thought, and you end up with a bigger challenge than you’d expect from the game’s description and fun, cartoonish presentation.
But that’s a good thing. My kids got frustrated with it, while I enjoyed the depth and unique approach to turn-based strategy gaming. Perhaps a little more story and little less humor would’ve been better, but no matter…the heroes for hire approach works on a level by level basis. All this game really needs is multiplayer action, with an opponent controlling the monsters. For now, though, strategy gamers should still check this one out. You may find, like I did, that Rune Raiders tastes better than chicken.