By: Xander

On: April 20th, 2009


Runner is a freeware game released today, made by three Destructoid Staff Members. Ashley Davis and Johnathan Holmes created the artwork, whilst overall design and programming was handled by Anthony Burch, who as I’ve mentioned before is a major supporter of the Indie Games scene and provided a lot of coverage during GDC.

Runner is a short game, roughly the length of Judith which we’ve covered previously. The controls are simple (Arrows move. Space jumps. The classics.), though it’s suprisingly challenging given the distractions that appear to impede your progress. Also like Judith it’s certainly more balanced towards thematic concerns and aesthetics than gameplay. That said anyone who was annoyed by the lack of ‘interactivity’ in Judith will be a little more satisfied with this as challenge, and indeed failure, are present. Again though, saying anything further is in danger of spoiling things. So play, think. and we’ll discuss in the comments/extended!

(Minor Edit: It apparently takes a little while to load, incase it looks like it’s either frozen or isn’t loading.)

  • Andy Hull

    Its like a Battle Toads romance novel!

  • Owlet

    What a charmingly simple game. No idea what I’m doing though. Running away from ex girlfriends?

  • Koholint

    I think this is about the creation of the atom bomb.

  • Shanethe13

    Battletoads? Count me in!

  • aeiowu

    It’s very challenging, but do your best to finish it.

    Pretty incredible. A great reflection on what seems like a very personal bit of romance from the author. Show this one to Ebert.

  • Maskfield

    Ha! I loved that thinking about the past prevented you from seeing where you were going, that writing lifted you above your obstacles, and that the romances seemed to render you invincible to harm, but just made it harder to escape after they ended.

    Game mechanics as message! hooray!

  • louis

    What a great little game this is. A great sense of progression and masterful style, even though the references are not very subtle (although they are sincere). A little tough, but touching and totally worth the small effort in my opinion (more than Braid?).

  • Duckmeister

    While I don’t agree with some of the messages put forth, I do enjoy this game with it’s clever use of mechanics to promote these messages, and how it’s self-reflective. Also, it accomplishes a very hard thing: It’s subtle, but it isn’t ambiguous.

  • undertech

    Yes I can’t believe I beat this!

  • Zaphos

    Not sure what the deal is with all the Judith references in the review … this is not very similar to that at all.

    Also, it’s interesting to see them making games but this feels quite … heavy handed …

  • Xander

    Suddenly everything I write is a review..

    Anyways, the Judith references were just because that’s the last thing we talked about on here that gave me the same kind of feeling this game did. Not the ominous forboding of course, but general intention of conveyance through the medium. It isn’t the most similar example of a game of this kind, but it was the most recent so.. I figured it would be easier. Easily digestable yet thought provoking.

  • Scott

    I played the shit out of that error message

  • Iocane

    I think Maskfield hit the nail on the head.

    I don’t like the game obscuring speech bubbles but I understand their purpose in this game. Neat idea.

  • Anthony Burch

    For anyone who tried to play the game over the last hour or so, I apologize — in attempting to update the EXE I switched the test rooms around on accident, hence the error message Scotty experienced.

    It’s been fixed now, however. The EXE now leads to, you know, the actual GAME instead of a test room that glitches out after 30 seconds.

  • cm

    I really enjoyed this, but is it supposed to abruptly stop as I’m jumping over a barrier and cut to the credits?

  • Anthony Burch


  • Jad

    Piano music is totally bugging me. I want something more involving I feel aw whatever nitpick. Gonna play a little more : D

  • Tenderfoot

    It was good, but a little too obvious too quick.

  • klei

    What i liked most was how at one point you simply could not go on if you keep noticing the bubbles – after the typing sequence the past was so close behind (as it usually happens after you write about your past romances) and the obstacles were coming faster than ever… You simply had to focus, really really focus, and miss the whole babbling of your memories. And this, this was kinda subtle tbh.
    Also, the game doesn’t imply writing lifts you above your obstacles – the whole point of you missing the obstacles is to prevent the furies of the past to get you – and while he was writing, they kept getting closer and closer. If anything, the typing was a moment of total weakness, when he surrendered to the past and wrote the tale of how it could have been, for ever. He bled out the pain, and then he could afford no mistakes – he focused, ignored the bubbles completely and somehow pulled through.

    Sweet, I unlocked the third level of The Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon. :)

  • Xander

    @Klei: Interesting, those are things I would wish to -know-. (I love that game so damn much)

    It is very cool that your able to avoid obstacles even when you can’t really see yourself or the obstacles when they’re that close to you. You have to sort of picture where you should be and the obstacle should be and then make sure either of them don’t collide. Which is weirdly cool.

    The way I saw the writing was somewhere in the middle, as it does manifest itself as kind of a ‘power up!’ but at the same time it does share some negative effects (I guess making it somewhat of a fake power up). I thought that it was a suggestion of the main character trying to avoid his problems by constantly working, meaning he didn’t have to deal with his relationships, but it also doesn’t mean that they go away. Instead his relationships just become worse. Of course what exactly he’s writing up there is a sort of fantasy anyway, so even through the content of his work he seems to be trying to escape his real relationships.

    What did people think about the idea of him getting caught? The girl kind of holds him whilst he somewhat panics, but I’m not entirely sure what that means to me.

  • !CE-9

    Battle Toads meet Rara Racer and The Marriage, more like?

    I wouldn’t compare it to Braid but it’s a great game, I loved the message. But what’s with the ninja?

    Xander: I guess getting caught symbolizes the memories of past relationships / failures overwhelming him and ultimately tearing him away from the reality. It’s not the actual girl embracing him, just a memory of the girl (that, in turn, is symbolizing the relationship with the girl). JMR.

  • boomboomroom

    Wow, your (someone’s is, anyway) dating/love life is a train-wreck. I feel for you. At least I tend to hear more positive rumors than not behind my back from my dates.

  • chutup

    Didn’t like this game much. Partly because it ran really slowly, and for no good reason – with so few objects on screen, and in GM, it seems like you must be using some really awful code to get it that slow.

    All the symbolic stuff was just kind of boring. These kind of metaphors are like game ideas, they’re a dime a dozen. They’re useless unless you execute them well. And executing a metaphor well does not mean getting the game to run smoothly, it means actually engaging your audience emotionally. I didn’t find that in this game because the hero is supposed to feel wistful and nostalgic for his ex-girlfriends, but the player just feels annoyed at them because they obscure your view and hump you when you die.

    Also, the dodging gameplay felt tacked on. From a purely artistic perspective, it doesn’t add anything to the work, and from a player’s perspective, it’s hardly a groundbreaking game mechanic.

  • Ilia Chentsov

    I hate Destructoid because they slandered Russian queen.

  • Cole

    Its a bit like Shockway Rider on the old zx spectrum.

  • Mort

    LOL at the Planescape:Torment reference