Release Date: July 5, 2021
Another day, another game I failed to play enough of to meet my goal of 60 minutes or to completion! I kind of feel like this is starting to be a trend.
Runo is an absolutely stunning “walking simulator” about a young person’s visit to a neglected family cottage in rural Finland after a long time away. At least, that’s how it starts out, as you walk the path to the cottage, look for the hidden key, and take a nap. And then things get weird.
Despite feeling a little abrupt, I didn’t mind that it took a turn for the weird. No, what put me off the game entirely was a couple of small design choices that had a pretty big impact. The first was a section where you needed to use an object to create a path from one place to another. It seemed a simple enough concept, but when I reached the final spot where I would need to use the item, I could not make the path connect. I understood what the game wanted me to do, and I felt like I was doing it in the best possible way, but I just kept resetting my progress back to the beginning of the section.
Which is where the second problem came in. Frustrated, I exited out of the game. The game that has no save function. The game that would require me to start over from the beginning, and still risk not being able to get any further.
I couldn’t do it. Replaying probably about half the total game in order to figure out if I was doing something wrong, or if it was just a bug and I’d never be able to continue didn’t appeal to me. Which is unfortunate, because I liked where the game was going. I wanted to learn about the mysterious dreams, to find Grandmother’s journal, and to continue exploring (albeit on rails) the beautiful landscape.
There are plenty of reviews that mention being able to play through to completion, so it’s likely that the problem with that segment of the game was the player and not the game itself. Still, I feel like having fail-states in a walking simulator without a save system is probably not the best idea.
SteamDB estimates that Runo has been downloaded somewhere between 5,700 and 15,700 times on Steam. It got very few negative reviews, and those mostly focus on game-breaking bugs, uninspired puzzles in the latter half, and the lack of any save system. It is ranked 762 out of 10,967 games released in 2021, putting it in the top 10%, which is pretty impressive for freshman effort, free walking sim.