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Rune II

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Rune II Game Poster Image
Buggy, outdated sequel makes you root for Ragnarok.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Your character is meant to defeat Loki and stop Ragnarok, but the world gets destroyed and reset over and over again. Your purpose winds up being to simply slaughter your foes and gain more powerful weapons and abilities until you can finally defeat the trickster god.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While there are some characters that can become your allies, and Heimdall advises you along your quest, there's no real character development. You're little more than a tool resurrected to fight the gods' battles.

Ease of Play

The bulk of the gameplay is hack-and-slash, with a bit of crafting tossed in for good measure. It's not particularly intricate or complicated, but the controls do feel clunky. A number of random technical glitches also tend to pop up which, while frustrating, don't necessarily make the game unplayable.

Violence

There's no shortage of blood and gore here, with impaled warriors shown right in the opening screens. Players can dismember foes, hacking limbs off and even using them as weapons if they choose to do so.

Sex

Female characters tend to be shown in light clothing, showing off cleavage and such. Players can customize their characters' appearances to a fair extent, which can lead to some odd visuals, including topless male and scantily clad female warriors battling in the midst of a snowstorm.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rune II is an open-world fantasy role-playing game available for download on Windows-based PCs. It's a sequel to the 2000 PC game Rune and shares its heavy influence on Norse mythology. The game's a brutally violent hack-and-slash title, with players using a variety of fantasy weapons and magical abilities to defeat enemies. There's no shortage of blood and gore, with corpses strewn about the landscape and characters able to dismember foes, chopping them into pieces and even using their dismembered limbs as blunt weapons. Customization options gives players a fair amount of freedom in their characters' appearances, which can also exaggerate some sexuality in those characters.

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What's it about?

The end of the world is just the beginning in RUNE II. Norse mythology has long foretold of the coming of Ragnarok, when the Nine Realms would fall and the time of the gods would come to an end. That's how it should have happened, but the trickster god Loki has discovered a way to bypass his own prophesized death. Finding refuge in the Vigrid Plain, Loki has discovered a way to manipulate time to his own ends, resetting Ragnarok time and again in a perpetual loop of destruction. In response to this travesty of fate, the all-seeing god Heimdall has put his own plan into action: You, a warrior of the past pulled from Valhalla. With the blessing of your chosen god, it's up to you to take to the battlefield once more and bring an end to Loki's machinations once and for all. 

Is it any good?

It's been nearly two decades since players went on a quest to defeat Loki and put a stop to the apocalyptic events of Ragnarok, and maybe it should've stayed in the past. While Rune II is technically meant to follow up on the events of the original, the game actually serves as more of a reboot. In fact, most of the events of the first game seem relatively pointless and easily ignored. That would be a bit of a disappointment, if not for the fact that the story this time around also seems to have the same issues. Most of the lore is just meant as gameplay hints, and what little plot that's actually there is a convoluted mess that makes little sense.

The gameplay in Rune II doesn't fare too much better than its story. This is a sequel that's technically been in the works for nearly two decades, and yet it still looks like something that was released in the same circa-2000 timeframe as the original. At one point, what was meant to be a snowstorm looked more like bad television reception. Aside from dated graphics, technical glitches also plague the experience. Oftentimes after killing an enemy, its body falls to the ground and spasms non-stop. Collision detection isn't the best either, as it's possible for characters to get stuck in the environment, which can make you feel almost sorry as you hack away at that foe trying to charge you who somehow got stuck merged into a tree. At that point, much like with the rest of the game, you just feel like putting it out of its misery.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Rune II affected by the gratuitous amounts of blood and gore? When does violence fit the overall theme of a story and when is it just overkill? Could the story of Rune II be told without the same amount of blood or gore?

  • How do movies, TV shows, games, and the like use classic mythology and folklore to inspire new stories for a modern audience? Do these representations encourage audiences to learn more about the cultures these myths come from?

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