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Hands-On: Runner Brings Enjoyable Anime Motorcycle Action To PSVR 2, With Some Frustrations

Runner key art

Now with an easier difficulty, some balancing tweaks and more, motorcycle VR action game Runner feels a little different than it did at launch. Here are our impressions of Runner on PSVR 2.

First released for Quest in 2022, Runner made its way over to PSVR 2 earlier this year, so we decided to jump in and see how the game fares on a new platform almost one year on from launch.

Locked and Loaded

With motorcycle-themed gameplay and a dystopian cyberpunk world, Runner takes clear inspiration from older anime like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Set on Presidium, you play as mod-courier Nina, who finds the authorities clamping down on her group's activities. Assisted by a handler, Vice, your only escape route is across the main highway through 7 sectors. If you're interested in the story, Runner comes with a free prologue visual novel, Preamble, but it's not essential reading.

Designed as a seated experience, Runner automatically moves you across the highway, though you can choose to accelerate or brake your bike manually by pushing up and down on either of your controller's analog sticks. Facing police motorcycles, airborne drones, armored units and more, enemies appear from every direction and all you need to do is destroy them. Continuous attacks and driving alongside civilian traffic without crashing into them maintains a combo meter for boosted scores.

Armed with a front-mounted cannon, grenades, missiles and two sidearms that swap between a gun and a saber that can deflect projectiles, Nina's motorcycle is pretty powerful. Using weapons offers satisfying resistance with haptic controller feedback and adaptive trigger support on PSVR 2, while drawing both sidearms simultaneously activates Rush Mode to slow down time for a tactical advantage. The dashboard HUD also monitors the energy of your bike's shield.

Everything Everywhere...

Unfortunately, Runner feels like it's doing too much at once. Your options feel excessive, and remembering which buttons to press becomes slightly confusing. The mirrored control scheme across both controllers limits the available buttons, though it does innately mean that there's support for those who play left-handed.

When wielding sidearms, the active controller's analog stick can't direct Nina's bike – a slightly strange decision given the bike isn't being steered via motion controls. It makes riding feel slightly awkward.

The levels also feel too long and lengthy boss fights don't help that feeling. Every boss needs careful strategy by learning its attack patterns. One appears like an armored shell, forcing you to destroy that shield before attacking the core. Another spider-like foe requires you to target its legs.

The variety is appreciated, but bosses feel drastically overpowered even on the easier difficulty. I often found myself repeatedly shooting them for ages, feeling little more than bullet sponges. That just isn't fun, even if it makes you really earn those victories. Thankfully, invincibility mode is an option if you're struggling to get past a particular section.

It's a shame that Runner gets bogged down by those little frustrations, because there's potential in the premise. As an anime fan, Runner's visual aesthetic is pleasing and on PSVR 2, it's boosted by 90Hz performance in 4K. A strong soundtrack complements the action and full customization over your bike colors goes a long way. Control issues aside, comfort options for the strength of your bike lean and motion vignettes made riding through the world a comfortable experience.

Runner VR - Steam Screenshot

Once a boss is defeated, Runner places your stage score onto online leaderboards and every level is replayable outside the campaign. You'll also then be given the option to cruise through the levels instead, taking in the scenery instead of destroying enemies and obstacles.

After your first playthrough, the journey is far from over – there's unlockable motorcylces with new features (such as permanent dual-wielding) and the leaderboards clearly emphasize replayability. Even with the frustrating boss fights and other flaws, I still found myself having fun with Runner.

Runner is available now on PSVR 2 and Quest, with a SteamVR release coming soon.

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