Now, with an easier difficulty, some balancing tweaks, and more, the VR Runner motorcycle action game 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 to PSVR 2 earlier this year, so we decided to dive in and see how the game performs on a new platform nearly a year after launch.
Locked and loaded
With motorcycle-themed gameplay and a dystopian cyberpunk world, Runner clearly draws inspiration from older anime like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. In Presidium, you play as mod courier Nina, who finds the authorities cracking down on her group’s activities. Assisted by a dog handler, Vice, your only escape route is to cross the main highway through 7 sectors. If you’re interested in the story, Runner comes with a free prologue visual novel, Preamblebut it is not essential reading.
Designed as a seated experience, Runner automatically moves you on the highway, although you can choose to accelerate or brake your bike manually by pressing up and down on one of your controller’s analog sticks. Faced with police motorcycles, airborne drones, armored units and more, enemies arise from all sides and all you have to do is destroy them. Continuing attacks and driving next to civilian traffic without crashing into it maintains a combo meter for improved scores.
Armed with a front-mounted cannon, grenades, missiles, and two handguns that swap between a pistol and a saber that can deflect projectiles, Nina’s motorcycle is quite powerful. Utilizing weapons provides satisfying resistance with haptic controller feedback and adaptive trigger support on PSVR 2, while firing both handguns simultaneously activates Rush Mode to slow down time for tactical advantage. The HUD dashboard also monitors your bike’s shield energy.
Unfortunately, Runner feels like he’s doing too much at once. Your options seem excessive and remembering which buttons to press becomes a bit confusing. The mirrored control scheme on both controllers limits the buttons available, although that naturally means there’s support for left-handed players.
When using handguns, the active controller’s analog stick can’t steer Nina’s bike – a bit of an odd move considering the bike isn’t steered via motion controls. This makes driving slightly awkward.
The levels also feel too long, and the long boss fights don’t help that feeling. Each boss needs careful strategy when learning their attack patterns. One appears as an armored shell, requiring you to destroy that shield before attacking the core. Another spider-like enemy requires you to target its legs.
Variety is appreciated, but bosses feel radically overpowered even on the easiest difficulty. I often found myself shooting them repeatedly for ages, feeling little more than bullet sponges. It’s just not fun, even if it really gets you those kills. Luckily, invincibility mode is an option if you’re having trouble getting past a particular section.
It’s a shame that Runner gets bogged down in these 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 enhanced by 90Hz performance in 4K. A powerful soundtrack complements the action and full color customization of your bike goes a long way. Control issues aside, the comfort options for your bike strength and motion vignettes made riding around the world a comfortable experience.
Once a boss is defeated, Runner places your stage score on the online leaderboards, and each level is replayable outside of the campaign. You’ll also be given the option to run through levels instead, admiring the scenery instead of destroying enemies and obstacles.
After your first playthrough, the journey is far from over – there are bikes to unlock with new features (like permanent dual-wielding) and the leaderboards have a clear focus on replayability. Even with the frustrating boss fights and other flaws, I still found myself having fun with Runner.