Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
At the beginning of the week, I wholeheartedly recommended Zineth– a freeware PC game that gave players a wall running, high-jumping, speed-skating mech. It brought me back to the idea of expressive movement and how appropriate a medium video games are to the concept. While I’m not particularly into watching humans dance, getting a video game character to move in the way I want them to is one of the most fulfilling experiences video games can provide. This brings me to this week’s title.
Runman was developed by Matt Thorson and Tom Sennett. If the lovely, thick-lined, slightly crooked, notebook-margin art style looks familiar, it’s possibly because one of Matt’s other games- An Untitled Story– was featured in the metroidvania themed Under The Radar. The bright colors and joyful aesthetic are matched by one of the most unique soundtracks you’ll ever hear in a video game. Using a mix of blues, jazz, and bluegrass, the songs that fill the game are all old, public domain recordings. The static noise that accompanies vocal tracks and effervescent violins may not seem apropos, but manages to affix itself in such a way as to seem that no other style of sound would be more fitting.
But aesthetics are only a small part of a game’s experience- let’s talk mechanics. Runman is- unsurprisingly- about running. The 2D game’s goal is to get your star-shaped character across a course as quickly as possible while avoiding traps and collecting goodies. To accomplish said goal, you’re given the traditional left and right movement and jumping. The twist that the developers added was providing the ability to incredibly speed up with what they call call ‘zoom.’ While zooming allows you traverse quickly and use the jump ability to bounce around walls, it also requires a bit of forethought as indiscriminately holding the button down will lead to repeated deaths. It’s a simple twist, but an interesting enough of one to keep you going through the game’s more than 35 levels.
I’ll leave you with a trailer of the game in action, which shows off both the game’s neat mechanics and wonderfully earnest and sincere ethos that manages to be sweet without being saccharine.
You can pick up Runman for free for your PC at the game’s website.