And Also Jump
Few games summarize themselves as succinctly as Run Slash Run. Developed by Korean studio Levit, players control a small cartoon girl as she runs, jumps, and slashes through enemies and platforming challenges. A fun action platformer, it does a lot of things right and just a few things wrong.
Levit‘s Run Slash Run is not a game for people looking to engage in a deep narrative or even a shallow one. Who are you? A girl with a sword. Where are you? Doesn’t matter. What are your motivations? Hit monsters with swords. Characters? You are a sword girl, and a giant hamster sells you upgrades.
The gameplay is simple in theory but can be challenging in practice. The main character automatically runs left to right across 2D levels. When she hits an enemy, she automatically attacks them with her sword. The player’s role in the relationship is to hit the jump button at the right time. A double jump lets her reach higher platforms or slightly extend her airtime.
However, Run Slash Run’s apparent simplicity hides a lot of hidden layers. Jumps and double jumps perform jump attacks, which have the potential to send enemies flying. This leaves them vulnerable when they hit the ground and is the only way to hurt some enemies. Some enemies can even become projectiles that can injure or kill other enemies. Jumping is also the only way of dodging attacks, which players do often, given the number of enemies on the screen. Ranged enemies and bosses, in particular, will really test the players’ timing.
Even Run Slash Run’s platforming is a pretty timing-intensive activity. Players don’t really have any control over the protagonist’s running speed. That means they must react quickly when they see a pit or spike trap coming up. Timing double jumps is also crucial. Hitting the button again at the top of the jump’s arc makes the character jump higher. Pressing it later in the arc extends the jump to cover wider gaps.
Run Slash Run gets more complex with the addition of its roguelite elements. Now, Run Slash Run is “roguelite” in the way that many mobile action games are. Players get one life per stage and choose between three random abilities when they level up. Levels and abilities don’t carry over across stages. Some of Run Slash Run’s abilities are straightforward: percentage increases to attack or defense. However, several unlock bonus attacks when players jump or double jump. Elemental powers also unlock significant buffs when the player completes a set of the same element or type.
While the abilities were okay overall, I have mixed feelings about some of them. The kunai knives, for example, theoretically allow you to attack enemies on levels above or below you. However, they are highly situational, thrown at random, and it’s difficult to hit anything. Meanwhile, the bomb and meteors only have a chance to fire when the player jumps. This means you can’t factor them into your decision-making. Sometimes you get lucky and hit something, but I still leaned toward the less flashy, more reliable alternatives.
Cutting to the Chase
Bosses are another thing that I put into the category of “mostly good.” Most bosses go through distinct attacks followed by a brief period of vulnerability. The former usually see the players dodging projectiles until they get close enough to start chipping away at their health. However, the knight boss drove me up the wall. The other bosses mostly expect players to use the same skills as the preceding level. If you time your jumps right, you can usually beat them. But the knight has the player go through quick time events with very strict timing. I got past it eventually, but I found that boss fight very frustrating.
Fortunately, Run Slash Run’s artwork is one area where I have no complaints. The sprites are very cute, with the main character giving off strong Powerpuff Girls vibes. Meanwhile, the enemies are all visually distinct enough that the player can identify them at a glance. The animations are also smooth, and the backgrounds are of good quality.
Overall, I think Run Slash Run is a great game. Is it perfect? No, but no game is, and it does many more things right than wrong. If you are looking for a simple but challenging action platformer, consider giving Run Slash Run a shot.
Is It Hardcore?
Run Slash Run is a fun and challenging action platformer whose seemingly simple controls mask a lot of hidden depth.