By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
“Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages” is a throwback to earlier days, as well as a unique game in its own right. This is Triple-B-Studios’ first commercial game, and it is not a letdown. I was handed a copy of this exciting game, and have talked with one of the company’s PR reps. All said, I have to say it was a very pleasant experience. There are some people who look down at Indie titles as cheap, or not being as fun to play; I am not one of those people. As of this writing, I am currently reading the novel that is a companion to the campaign of this game, so I can learn more about it. Many thanks to the Triple-B team for giving me this opportunity!
In Ring Runner, you play a Sage, a person with a mysterious power that few are afforded. Your character is a bit of a mystery, though. They have no idea who they are, or how they got to be where they are, save for a bit of surgery that put them in the delicate, amnesiac position they are in. Your partner is Nero, a virtual HUD that exists in your characters head. Nero is snarky, humorous, and at times, kind of a jerk. The whole of the dialogue for the game is entertaining, and there are pop-culture references aplenty. As a Sage, you pilot a variety of spacecraft, and get caught up in a host of adventures, from obnoxious hermits, trash collectors, and middlemen who simply want to blow you up because you are in their territory. Your ship, or “hull”, is a gateway to a new world of excitement and danger!
More than Your Average Shooter
In earlier space shooters, such as “R-Type,” you had one ship that could be tweaked a bit but mostly only focused on weapons customization. However, in “Ring Runner”, you have a whole host of ships! There is a large variety, and thanks to the wonderful folks at Triple-B, I was given a set of them to explore the various multiplayer modes with, as seen below:
There are five main archetypes of ships in the game. You can customize them to your desire, but these are pre-built models with their own flaws and strengths. The design types are as follows:
Arsenal: The Arsenal archetype is not mobile or swift. However, what they lack in mobility, they make up for in the power to call large missile strikes, placing turrets to assist in combat, mine fields, the works. Long battles typically don’t favor them, as they prefer to unleash hell and go all-in with powerful attacks to devastate targets. Easily one of my favorites in the prebuilt examples happened to be the Titan. It had only one real weapon, a powerful death-beam that eradicated enemies. Examples of these in the story mode are the A5G Aten, A1 Churchill, and the A5 Strata Gunship.
Casters: Casters are a flying slap in the face to all modern physics and laws of reality. Personally, Casters are my favorite type of ship. Using gravity, dark matter, and even time itself, these well-balanced, mobile hulls can use force waves to push attacks away, slow down time, and use a host of explosive area-of-effect attacks to cause havoc in combat. Examples of these are C5R Manta, C3 Bodkin, and the C1 Saruhaim.
Fighters: Lithe and agile (or as agile as a starship can be), these hulls offer lasers, and of course, barrel rolls. These use the heat generated by flight and attack to their own uses, and several of their primary weapons can be fired only when a certain amount of heat is generated. Examples of these in game are the F5R Odin, F5G Lupine, and the F5 Mercury.
Grapplers: Grapplers were the bane of my multiplayer/mission existence. They can push or pull enemy ships to where they desire them to be; usually in the most inconvenient place. I cannot count the number of times I was about to blow up a zombie ship, when a grappler jerks me out of place, to start having his buddies shoot at me. While their armaments have a limited range, they can put you right in place to get maximum efficiency out of their bombardment. Some of these are the G5F Wyveros, G4 Hexad, and the G3 Spade.
Rogues: The Rogue is the hull I had the least experience or skill with. The Rogue is sneaky and silent, as its name would imply. The Gemini Beacon is a primary tool of the Rogue which can be consumed to disrupt functions on the ship it targeted, or you can simply blow them up with a wave of missiles from the darkness of space. I love the concept, but let’s face it: I am not stealthy. My idea of stealth is to blow up all targets with the Arsenal, so nobody can report I was there! Some common Rogues are R5F Pegasus, R5 Ghost, and the R4 Krang.
There is more to Ring Runner than flying a spaceship and enjoying the immersive story, however! There are a total of six game modes, each with their own goals and playstyles. In addition to that, there is the “Arcade,” which can be found in the Mission Select. The Arcade is a trio of games that are very reminiscent of 80s arcade games, where you can earn “plex,” i.e. the game’s currency.
Just Call Me Solo
There is a variety of ways one can enjoy “Ring Runner” while playing alone. While I will focus on the multiplayer aspects of this game, you can enjoy those selfsame modes by yourself, teaming up with bots, or in some instances, flying solo in one on one combat. The main options for Single Player mode are the Campaign, which is described above, Scenarios, which are a variety of mini games that you can play by yourself to test your skills, or Mission Select, which allows you to go to a “Universe Map” of the places you have visited, jump directly to the Arcade, or to the last mission in the story that you have visited. The story is deep and immersive, offering 30 hours of gameplay, in a host of different missions such as escape from enemies, meeting new entities in space, and simply destroying things with whatever lasers, rockets, or Neutronian physics defying dark-matter casters (my personal favorite) you have on hand.
The Arcade option is a blast from to the past! They took their own take on a trio of classic arcade games: “Breakout”, “Missile Command”, and “Asteroids”. Their own versions of the games are fantastic, responsive, and can certainly break up the gameplay with something casual to make plex for your research of new parts and hulls. While proceeding with gameplay, you can research new devices, but that isn’t free! That’s where your money gets primarily spent. However, I am pretty awful at these games, much as I was a child. No, I was a “Mrs. Pac-Man”, “Galaga”, and “Gauntlet” kid.
It’s a simplistic approach, and one that I appreciate. The backdrops in the main game are much more elaborate and breathtaking. But here in arcade mode, we are transported back to a simpler time; a trip down memory lane. In addition, there are the “Scenarios”. These are a trio of missions that you can play alone or with people online in the multiplayer section. I will cover them more in depth there. The choices are Space Defense League (SDL), Zombie Survival, and Deathmatch. Finally, in the Single Player section we have mission select. You are dropped onto a solar system, with a series of blips that represent places you have previously visited, whether to relive memories, or work on challenges.