REVIEW : RUNE II: Decapitation Edition (PC)
It doesn’t often happen to start writing a review of a game with its active development team and close it with the same now failed, but that’s exactly what happened to us with Rune 2, a title that concludes the sad parable of Human Head Studios, which began in 2000 with Rune. By reworking the article, there was almost a desire to make it an epitaph for a studio that has always had excellent ideas but has never been able to realize them as it would have liked.
Paradoxical that it was Bethesda who saved the employees of Human Head who at the time of Prey 2 sent the studio to the pavement, despite the project being more than promising, taking away any possibility of recovering.
So the team that had made small raw gems such as Rune, Dead Man’s Hand and Prey found themselves having to beg for projects with a reduced staff, going lower and lower until the negative peak reached with the bad The Quiet Man. From there, the survivors of the trickle of negative votes and lost money wanted to go back to basics and tried to play their latest card: Rune 2. At this point, you are wondering if it is worth playing. The answer is really simple: no, forget it.
Unfortunately, Human Head’s failure will not guarantee any support for the game, support that it immensely needs, given the state it is in. It is easy to write that Rune 2 is an overly ambitious project for a team with water in their throats, but we don’t want to appear too cynical. You almost want to close the review here so much has suddenly become useless to talk about the game. Anyway, let’s try it.
Rune 2 is a third-person open-world action in which we take on the role of a generic Nordic warrior who must face Ragnarok, the end of time, defeating for the umpteenth time the god Loki, returned after Ragnar, the protagonist of the first Rune, he had torn him to shreds with an axe. Guided by the god Heimdall, we must therefore travel to the Midgard islands in search of some artefacts with incredible powers, unique to be able to give us the strength necessary to face the colossal enemy, weakening the Gate of the Kingdoms. The artefacts must be collected within a time limit, after which Loki will attack us and take control of a given territory, making our mission more difficult.
The territories claimed by Loki can, in turn, be reconquered, provided you defeat the guardians who guard them, a task not easy when the character is still low-level and does not have particularly high-performance equipment. Fortunately, by dying you do not see the game over, but you are sent back to one of the unlocked checkpoints on the map, from which you can start with the equipment practically intact.
Rune 2 is a mixture of different genres, sadly tasteless. In addition to the role-playing features, with character growth completely guided by the system, there are also survival parts, very superficial, which require you to break stones and cut trees to rebuild houses in which to cook, repair weapons, make new equipment and deposit excess items in special offers. All the buildings are rebuilt more or less in the same way and they all contain the same tools, so much so that starting to collect the material to build them becomes repetitive after a few minutes.
The system is particularly agile because obviously, we wanted to favour the cooperative mode, where certain delays are not welcome, but the substance is that the survival elements are superficial, almost annoying from a certain point onwards.
The world of Rune 2 is populated only by enemies – like Thrall, undead, giants and so on – and by animals, which also behave like enemies, be they wolves or fawns (yes, Bambi is aggressive too). Apart from the main missions, we are not given any other quests. However, there are tasks to be performed implicitly in the game system, which reward us with additional experience points. For example, we have to cut down a certain number of trees, kill a specific amount of enemies, explore some key areas and so on. Everything is very direct but overall uninteresting.
The combat system is in line with the rest of the game: it wants to be brutal but ends up being anything but. Incidentally, the shots are slimy, the clashes generally chaotic and the strategy entirely absent. In most cases, you just have to jump into the fray and hit like crazy to win. When the enemies are too strong just walk away and come back with a few more levels or a better weapon.
Be that as it may, Rune 2’s focus is on equipment. Around the game world, there are dozens of recipes that give access to increasingly powerful weapons and armour, which are then the only motive to continue looking for resources and to explore all corners of Midgard. The most valuable pieces have greater durability and hurt more.
Bugs and glitches
Rune 2 is not hideous, it is simply incomplete and unfinished in every aspect. Some things just work, others would take a few more months to develop, and still, others are simply incomplete.