You can run, you can gun, but you won’t have much fun.
The chiseled heroes in endless runner games are usually so focused on running and jumping, they forget all the things they can do with their hands. Well, not anymore. Run’n’Gun is a testament to walking and chewing gum at the same time, and while it adds an exciting shooting component to the tried and true formula of the endless runner genre, some major bumps along the way hold it back from truly hitting its mark.
Run’n’Gun makes no attempt at incorporating a story into its unique blend of gameplay, as it sends your hero running through the streets of a muddy town and gunning down goblins for no rhyme or reason. You’ll meet up in a tavern in-between your runs, where you can upgrade your perks, shop for other characters, or accept missions from the dashing barkeep in a red vest and monocle.
Players will start out as the Hunter archetype, but a Sheriff, a Troll, a brother-sister pair of Twins, and (oddly enough) a Hobgoblin can also be purchased. But the other characters are ridiculously overpriced, and even the cheapest will have you running ‘n’ gunning for at least a week straight to rack up the amount of coins or diamonds needed. The perks in Run’n’Gun are mostly what you’d expect from an endless runner game: bonuses that let you run through obstacles for a short period of time, and a magnet that pulls coins towards your position as you run on by. You’ll want to stack up as many perks as you can though, as your run will often be a treacherous one.
Run’n’Gun is not exactly a difficult game, but it uses a cheap and annoying tactic of ending your runs by forcing you to make a disorienting turn, and then immediately hitting you with a closely-placed obstacle. This happens every single time you have to turn, and it gets worse on later environments, as you’ll still be at the end of your turning animation when the inevitable obstacle arrives. The monotonous cobblestone streets and brown townhouses get old very fast, as there is no checkpoint system or randomized order of environments you’ll encounter, so players will need to run through the starting town every single time they want to play. This is really a shame, because some of the later environments are really exciting and visually pleasing, like an underground cave with blue crystals jutting out from the rocks, and a snowy mountain canyon – but you’ll only ever reach them a handful of times.
Most missions will reward you with XP over money, but there are little benefits to gaining character levels besides unlocking more missions or available perks to purchase. Mission objectives range from boring to mundane, with tasks like “Turn left 30 times” and “Turn right 30 times” dominating the spectrum. A few of them even have you crashing into obstacles on purpose in order to complete. But the worst part is that you can only select one of these missions to work on at a time, which needlessly draws out the experience when several of the early objectives could easily be completed altogether in a single run. Special daily and weekend missions keep things a little interesting by having you snag five colored stars in some tricky locations, but most require you to play as a specific character you haven’t unlocked yet before you can even attempt them. It’s a catch-22 of sorts, as these are the only missions that reward you with precious in-game diamonds, but you’ll need to spend the diamonds in the first place to buy the characters so you can take on the challenge.
But design flaws aside, I think the most disappointing thing about Run’n’Gun is that the game feels like so much wasted potential. The shooting mechanic is extremely well done, and the simple, smooth controls make it feel great to pull off. As you approach each goblin from behind, your character automatically starts to fire their weapon, and so all you have to do is line up behind them to aim and make every shot count. As the goblin takes damage, coins will fall out behind him, which you can conveniently scoop up as you continue your attack. You can also fire one-off shots at hanging TNT barrels for an extra explosion of coins, but that’s about the extent of the gunning in this game.
Sadly, gunning feels more like a gimmick that an integral part of the gameplay. It would have been cool to have the option of shooting through some obstacles instead of just jumping or sliding underneath them every time, and unlockable weapons with different functions and shooting styles would have gone a long way as well.
In the end, Run’n’Gun had the potential to be great: an action hybrid that combined layered shooting components with endless running gameplay. There are definitely a few moments of greatness here and there that seep through the cracks, like the more stylized environments later on in the game, and the base gunning feature itself. But while the intentions are there, poor mission designs, bland starting environments, and little offered in terms of rewards or affordable perks make this endless runner just another forgettable fifty-yard dash.