Surprisingly polished and deep, Ring Runner's gameplay draws inspiration from old school shmups like Asteroids, and Mechwarrior for ship customization, campaign and progression.
The campaign is linear but varied and very long to complete (don't rely on my Steam stats), and also challenging if you decide to play in Sage difficulty or higher. I recommend playing on Sage, the game is way too easy otherwise. Most missions can be replayed with a different, fully customized ship and that, in my opinion, is one of the greatest strengths of the game.
The story is engaging, has a nice touch of humor, and features many characters whose personality can be felt without ever seeing their faces. The game is backed by an original lore that justifies the way all technologies used in the game work, which adds a lot to immersion and will surely appeal to all Sci Fi fans like me.
Ship customization is incredibly deep for a game with such a classy shmup gameplay. Here are some ship kinds you can fly:
- A heavy gunship with thick shields that shoot rockets all over the place, or let its couple dozen turret pets do the shooting.
- An agile and accurate fighter that also relies on heat to cripple its foes. Yes, there is a heat stat just like in Mechwarrior.
- A "Caster" ship that creates gravity fields to snare its targets and wipe them out with damaging AOEs.
- A melee ship that can pull others toward them to drill them or smash them with a space flail (!)
- A cloaking rogue ship that creates holograms to confuse the crap out of the AI, then deal huge damage while they have their backs turned. Special attention has been given to stealth mechanics ; enemy ships will only spot you while you're cloaked if you get in front of them or fly into a radar ray.
You can also combine all of the above with hybrid ships. My favorite ship is a less stealthy rogue with the agility of a fighter.
Graphically and artistically, Ring Runner isn't particularly fancy, but it's polished and it will run smoothly on any PC.
Another point that really surprised me: the game's soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in a long time, it's really amazing and nicely fits its atmosphere (or its lack of atmosphere - it's space after all). You can easily find it on the internet.
TL;DR: If you like games with classic shmup mechanics, deep customization and an original Sci Fi story, this is the one.