Rune Raiders is a turn-based fantasy strategy game. While the concept is simple enough to literally pick up and play in seconds, the strategy is surprisingly deep.
Rune Raiders, like nearly all turn-based strategy games, is mostly about proper unit placement. While this may sound a bit dull, keep in mind that the battlefield in these types of games is rarely static, forcing you to constantly reposition and reformulate your strategy in order to be successful. Of course, placement isn't everything. You will also need to select the proper units, upgrade them intelligently, and outfit them properly with the spoils of war.
The game is divided up into bite-sized missions (15, in all). With three difficulty levels and a star-based scoring system, you won't be running out of content anytime soon. However, this game would be made infinitely better with the inclusion of a random map generator, which would guarantee the ability to play until you decide you're done rather than simply running out of content. To begin a level, you will need to spend some of your cash to recruit heroes. This needs to be done each time, and heavily upgraded and well-equipped heroes will be much, much more expensive than those of the low-level, unequipped variety. Once the mission begins, you will position your team and begin advancing upward. You must cleverly negotiate obstacles, knowing when to advance and when to take cover, as the enemies will advance downward with blood in their eyes.
There are fifteen different types of enemies, and the differences here are not merely cosmetic so know your opponent, and move cautiously when facing a new adversary until you learn its capabilities. Rune Raiders supports Game Center for achievements and leader boards. However, this is a single-player game so don't go looking for opponents or team-members (although, that would be very, very cool). My only real complaint with the game is its inability to save your game while on a mission. While it does support multitasking, if you close it and open too many apps or have to reboot, you will find yourself once again back at the beginning of the mission. The bite-sized nature of the missions makes this more of an annoyance, however, than a dealbreaker. Additionally, there is no cloud-save support at this time so don't expect your progress on one device to show up on another.
The graphics of Rune Raider are entirely tile-based, and the tiles themselves aren't animated. This isn't to say the game lacks polish, however. You character tiles (as well as your enemies) move with a smooth animation, and the attacks have decent effects. If you're an eye candy junkie, you may be disappointed; however, the vast majority of us will find that this uncluttered style lends itself quite well to the small screen of portable devices. Lastly, because the game supports the iPhone retina display but not that of the new iPad, Rune Raiders actually looks best on an iPhone 4/4S.
The music and sound effects of Rune Raider are minimal, and you are likely to quickly follow my lead by disabling the in-game music.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Rune Raider contains neither content nor consumable IAPs. While I always welcome the former, the absence of the latter is a big plus, in my book.
While I would love to see a random map generator and some form of multiplayer, even in its current form, Rune Raiders offers solid turn-based game play portioned up into bite-size chunks. This is the perfect game for killing time during your busy day. Just don't quit the app in the middle of a mission unless you intend to return to it before it is killed from the multitasking tray or your progress on that mission will be lost.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - Adequate, but certainly nothing to write home about. Sound: - 2 - Minimal sound effects and repetitive music means you'll likely be turning this one waaaay down. Controls: - 5 - An accurate and responsive interface coupled with a well-thought out game design means you won't even have to think about it once you start playing. Gameplay: - 4 - A great little turn-based strategy game in need of a bit more content.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Concentrate on upgrading and outfitting a few core party members rather than spreading your resources out among all of them. With the right gear, you can have a healer/archer or a tank/cannon.