Upon first loading up the free Steam combat demo of the open-world fantasy RPG Runes, it became immediately apparent that this game emits a deeply powerful aura. The MSI Afterburner’s fan control went berserk, reflecting the intense experience that was about to unfold. Despite the untextured enemies resembling Metal Gear Solid’s cyborg ninja, the sheer moxy of the game was undeniable.

Runes, an indie fantasy RPG, sets itself apart right from the start by leaving textures behind and focusing on gameplay mechanics. The audacity of choosing a common word like “Runes” for the game’s title, without even checking if it had been used before, adds to its mysterious charm. The combat, based on stamina with directional slashes, parries, and dodges, exudes a sense of weight and intensity that defies expectations.

Despite its unconventional style and lack of optimization, Runes manages to captivate players with its intriguing gameplay and witty writing. The combat demo, functioning as an arena mode where players can unlock perks and higher difficulty levels, offers a glimpse into the potential of the full game. While some may be turned off by the absence of textures or the intense demand it places on GPU, others find themselves drawn in by the unique experience it offers.

For those seeking a different kind of indie fantasy RPG experience, Runes provides a breath of fresh air amidst a sea of traditional titles. While it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with overheating GPU concerns or a preference for fully textured games, Runes manages to carve out its own niche in the gaming world. And for those looking for a more polished and Morrowind-inspired alternative, Ardenfall still remains an excellent choice with its detailed world and immersive gameplay.

Runes stands out as a game that challenges conventions and embraces its own quirks. Despite its initial shortcomings and unorthodox approach, it manages to create a captivating and unique experience that keeps players intrigued and entertained. Whether you’re a fan of fantasy RPGs or simply looking for something new and different, Runes offers an adventure unlike any other.


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