Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

Rune II is a child of love. At least that’s what its developers, Human Head Studios, claimed. This is why it is especially ironic that the day after the release of the game, the studio closed, and its employees moved under the roof of Bethesda. Apparently, love was not so strong.

No one from Human Head Studios has directly said that the abolition of the studio had something to do with the poor quality of its latest project, but, gods know, it’s hard not to add these two facts. Yes, I will not keep the intrigue and immediately say that Rune II came out very weak and raw, and it is better not to waste time on it. Want details? Then read the review.

Be afraid of your desires

It is impossible to talk about Rune II without a brief history of its development and a mention of the original slasher. The American company Human Head Studios has been in the gaming industry for over 20 years. During this time, she created about a dozen games, but she managed to stay in people’s memory, perhaps, only thanks to the 2006 Prey shooter and Rune released at the end of 2000. Of the notable projects, the studio also had The Quiet Man, but in a decent society they prefer to remain silent about it.

At one time, Rune, like Blade of Darkness, became a cult third-person action game that allowed you to shred enemies right and left. In Rune, inspired by the Norse myths, we, as often happens, had to save the world. This had to be done in the role of a Viking named Ragnar. The young warrior could fight with a variety of melee weapons and enemy limbs, and when he needed to improve his health, he picked up unsuspecting lizards and chewed them with relish. And in the game, in addition to a long story company, there were several multiplayer modes.

The original Rune was one of those games that wanted a sequel or a remake. However, to what more or less popular game of the early 2000s would fans now want a sequel? For many years, Human Head Studios did not react to these desires in any way, but in 2017 it suddenly gave birth to the announcement of Rune: Ragnarok. It was quite unexpected, but the players took the news with joy: still, imagine the good old “Rune” in the same row, for example, with the latest God of War.

Rune II [Rune: Ragnarok] game Review

Only 15 people worked on the game, but some of them were involved in the creation of the original Rune, and this was encouraging.

However, after everyone looked at the first gameplay footage, excitement quickly turned to disappointment. Curve “combat”, jerky animations, outdated graphics – this is not what fans expected from the continuation of “Rune”. They wanted to see a story-driven linear adventure, but the developers started talking about the open world, multiplayer sessions, crafting, building, survival elements and early access.

Instead of focusing on the game’s story or combat system, Human Head decided it was more important to change its name, and in 2018 got rid of the Ragnarok subtitle. The project was dubbed simply “Rune”. The leapfrog with names did not end there: in May 2019, the Roman deuce was added to Rune. Everyone, apparently, should have understood that this is not just a remake, but a full-fledged continuation of the series. The game became a temporary exclusive to the Epic Games store, and the announced early access on Steam was never launched. Perhaps if criticism had hit the game a year earlier, the developers would have been able to adjust the final result. Although who am I kidding – they probably themselves perfectly understood that Runa would no longer justify anyone’s hopes.

Initially, the developers stated that their game would even tame animals. But why is it needed if the hero himself can fly like a bird?

The repetition of the same

When I first launched Rune II, I was surprised to note that its version was marked with the numbers 0.0.9. And this despite the fact that she had already left the day before. However, as you understand, this was far from the last thing that the game managed to impress me with. Optimization and graphics dealt the next blow. I tried the game on different hardware, read other people’s reviews and came to the sad conclusion that Rune II slows down almost everyone and at the same time looks very outdated even at high graphics settings. I’m generally silent about low ones: it seems that the original “Rune” looked much more detailed and at least did not load the video card.

At the very beginning, the game kindly offers to decide on the mode – multiplayer or single player – and create your own avatar. Do not count on room for self-expression, the editor is poor here: the character can only choose gender, hairstyle, tattoos, and skin and hair color.

The newly appeared Viking finds himself on one of the islands of Midgard. A timer starts ticking in the corner of the screen: on average, we have an hour and a half. An hour and a half before Ragnarok and the battle with Loki begin, after the defeat in which the timer will restart its countdown. Have I already told you what madness is?

It is very easy to lose in a battle with the main deceiver from Scandinavian myths: it is enough not to have a legendary weapon with you. To create a sword suitable for killing Loki, you need to find its recipe, how to pump it up and collect a bunch of rare ingredients. If you attack the god with a simple weapon and successfully demolish his health bar, he will still sooner or later say that he is tired of messing with you and send you back to Midgard. In the meantime, another Age will come on the archipelago – that is how pompously those one and a half hours before meeting Loki are called here.

Rune II [Rune: Ragnarok] game Review

The successive periods of time have sonorous definitions: the Age of perfidy, the Age of awakening, the Age of fire…

The eras are slightly different from each other. So, in the Age of Frost, the hero can sometimes start to freeze if he does not find where to warm himself, and in the Age of Night it is almost always dark. But I would not say that these changes greatly affect the gameplay. Ages do not even always correspond to their description. The age of rebirth is presented as a safe period in which Loki will not bother us, but in reality he will still rain down a meteor shower on the player every now and then.

The timer ticks constantly, even in a single-player game you cannot pause it. How is it proposed to brighten up the time while waiting for God? First of all, by collecting artifacts that can weaken him. In the final battle, the artifacts found are also sort of extra lives that allow you to continue the battle if Loki or his henchmen defeat you. What’s the point though? The game will still roll back to the beginning if you don’t own a legendary weapon.

Artifacts are marked on the map and scattered across the islands, between which you can swim on a makeshift raft and drakkar, and if the territory has already been visited before, then you can teleport to the local Beaverst Gate. Almost always, in order to pick up the treasured item, you need to defeat the mini-boss. Having received a valuable thing, the hero must take it to one of the Gates. At the same time, for some inexplicable reason, fast travel between the islands will become unusable. Or rather, you can, but then all the collected artifacts will disappear.

Rune II [Rune: Ragnarok] game Review

Most of the artifacts refer us to Scandinavian mythology, but there are references to the original game as well. Here, for example, is the Heart of Konrak, one of the antagonists.

Running in a circle

The plot is not the strongest side of Rune II. We have the villain Loki, who intends to destroy the world, and the main character, who was resurrected by Heimdall to stop the trickster god. As you progress through, you can stumble upon obelisks with fragments of Scandinavian legends, but it feels like they are set only for show, so that you can later say that the game has a solid mythological foundation.

Another link to myths is the ability to swear allegiance to one of the gods: Odin, Thor or, suddenly, Hel, who, according to the legends of the ancient Scandinavians, during Ragnarok was supposed to lead the army of the dead to storm Asgard, and not against Loki. The deities endow the player with a unique magic that can be “cast” by accumulating a special counter. And each of the aces and their eternal enemy slightly change the numerical characteristics of the character.

A huge number of items, mostly useless, fall upon the player in Rune II: weapons, armor, consumables, body parts of defeated enemies … Simple resources like wood and ore are obtained in an obvious way: beat the barrel – get boards. For rarer ones, you will have to tinker. Inventory will very quickly become cluttered with a bunch of things, most of which are the same equipment or weapons.

One has only to throw wood into a dilapidated house, as a burning hearth, a chest and a grindstone immediately appear in it. Don’t expect architectural diversity from Rune II: the built houses are the same on the inside. From this game, in principle, it is a sin to expect diversity.

Inside each hut there is a storage for items, working on the principle of chests from Resident Evil: a common content for any chest. Equipment in the storage does not deteriorate after death, unlike what is with the hero. Although with the resurrection all the belongings remain with the character, all the armor and weapons in the inventory gradually lose their durability, and they have to be repaired.

Well, since we are talking about death, it’s time to talk about what precedes it, namely the combat system. It even looks like the original one: you know, trample around the enemy, click with the mouse, chop with a sword or an ax. Aiming at the target, however, was not brought up – you will have to circle on your own, controlling your position relative to the enemy. The hero also does not know how to evade attacks – there are no somersaults, tackles and other tricks unworthy of a Viking.

Each island is inhabited by hostile creatures. At first, the player will meet only people and wild animals like wolves and wild boars, but the farther from the center of Midgard he sails, the more fantastic creatures he will come across. Dwarves, giants, fire golems, draugrs and other living dead like to appear out of thin air in whole squads, which, perhaps, should once again emphasize the mythological nature of what is happening.

Rune II [Rune: Ragnarok] game Review

To prevent life from seeming raspberry to the player, some survival mechanics have been added to Rune II. Fortunately, there was no hunger and thirst, but if, for example, you swim in the water for a long time or fall into a snowstorm, you can start to freeze and lose health.

The health scale is automatically restored only in the house – the rest of the time the Viking will have to be treated with what God sent: meat that still needs to be fried on a fire, mugs of honey and lizards. At this point, players of the original Rune might shed a tear of nostalgia. And then brush it away with the severed limb of the enemy, because in the second “Rune”, as in the first, you can fight with the remains of opponents.

I have already noted above that Rune II also offers a multiplayer mode. As you know, any game gets better in co-op. Well, almost any. In our case, the joint passage does not really brighten up the routine collection of artifacts and attempts to kill Loki. Leveling from a single player game does not transfer into multiplayer, and for each server the tedious grind will have to be started again.

By the way, just two weeks after the release, all my attempts to play with real people failed: there was not a soul on the servers either in co-op or in Deathmatch.

Rune II [Rune: Ragnarok] game Review

The game is translated in pieces. As is often the case, fonts, if they had any charm, then lost it when they were adapted to Russian.

***

Rune II takes the player in circles, forcing them to perform the same actions cycle after cycle. All this is ultimately done for the sake of pumping and collecting rare ingredients to create a unique weapon with which you can defeat the final boss. Why even make a well-developed, solid adventure with a story and various locations, if you can send the player into a half-dead open world over and over again, giving him the same tasks to search for artifacts? Let the player himself frolic in the “sandbox”. But will he have enough patience and interest to repeat the same thing a bunch of times?

After the closure of Human Head Studios, all the troubles of Rune II were transferred to the publisher, Ragnarok Game, and now, according to the people responsible for the game, negotiations are underway with development teams that could help with further support and updates of the action. So far, player complaints about technical problems are being resolved by the favorite for the creators of Rune II by the least effort. System requirements change on the go after the release, and the other day Windows 7 was removed from the list of supported operating systems, because playing with it has certain difficulties and the easiest option is, of course, to pretend that there were never any problem areas. It is obvious that now there is no one to seriously deal with the second “Rune”, and the big question is whether the Age of Rebirth will come for her at all.

Pros: references to the original Rune.

Cons: outdated graphics; bad optimization; boring and monotonous gameplay; general dampness and incompleteness; doubtful hopes for the further development of the game.

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