Stylish, parry-based combat against hordes of surrounding foes, set against very pretty backgrounds that bring Dead Cells to mind. What’s not to like?
They Always Run leans hard into the bounty hunter premise, which is delightful. You don’t always have to fight, but you can pick up extra money by targeting specific enemies, and you can build your reputation with the police or mafia based on who you turn the target over to, and whether you’ve killed that bounty boss (the easy option) or more delicately chosen to avoid swinging your sword, instead punching your foe until they lose consciousness. The futuristic setting also makes this more than a western: you’ve got a third arm that can help you break combos (or provide an extra gun), and a brief glimpse at the hub world suggests all sorts of legal and illegal augments that you’ll be able to install if you earn enough.
The demo is an entire hideout, roughly thirty minutes in length (with a bit extra to get used to the tutorial content), and if the game continues in this vein, it’s in great shape–although it badly needs to optimize the current load times, especially as combat (or one-hit environments) can be unforgiving. I’m also not entirely sure how I feel about the current window for parrying and the generous invulnerability frames for rolling–though they might be necessary, given that the clutter of foes onscreen at once can occasionally make it difficult to be pixel-precise.
What excites me most about They Always Run is that you’ve got a ship and can travel from world to world, which is a surefire way to introduce a variety of level designs and foes that go beyond mere biome shifts in a single area. Moreover, the target-based mechanic suggests that the game won’t just have you dispatching “named” foes about whom you have no connection, but that there’s a larger, more intimate narrative to your missions. Downloading the memories of your fellow slain hunters adds some immediate stakes as well, since you’re seeing the last thing they saw–generally the person who callously murdered them.
As long as They Always Run remains specific with the “they” of its title and can fix the sluggish loads and occasional framerate hiccups, this is a world that’s lots of fun to run through.