The Amulet of AmunRun Review

The Amulet of AmunRun by developer and publisher Fruits of Yggdrasil StudioPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes.



The Amulet of AmunRun is a cooperative escape room game set in an Egyptian tomb. On the surface, this game is perfect for puzzle aficionados like my partner and I. It includes complex challenges, cartoony and fun graphics, and is set in an Egyptian pyramid. Without really looking at the game type, I snatched the opportunity to play it. Then I regretted my life choices in a serious way.

Gameplay

AmunRun is listed as an indie, and adventure game, and markets itself as a cooperative escape room. Two archaeologists enter a dangerous pyramid and their objective is to recover the pharaoh's amulet hidden deep within. Historically, tombs were constructed to protect the mummy and their goods from thieves. It is a practice used to protect prestigious persons like pharaohs or powerful people in Egypt. However, these 'traps' are not designed as depicted in modern movies. Anyways, the gameplay has two distinct sections. The first is the puzzle section and the second is the running portion. In combination, The Amulet of AmunRun could have been a great experience. Unfortunately, we will get to why I didn't enjoy my playthrough.

Puzzles in the game are layered in that each room has multiple stages to complete the encounter. After players make it through coordination and sleuthing the solutions, they will progress to the runner portion of gameplay. In these areas, there are timers in the form of boulders or mummy chases, or floors collapsing. Thankfully, the puzzles break up the frustrations of running sections that feel stilted and inconsistent.

The Puzzles:

At several points in the game, players have to solve intriguing puzzles like deciphering texts. In other areas, players need to find objects for placement on stone blocks. Most of them require players to activate switches in order, indicated on cartouches or scrolls found in the area.

At the very least, while the puzzles seemed to be logical, there are too many solution possibilities. Normally, adding challenging puzzles to a video game is an aspect that I love. Sadly, the answer to puzzles is reduced to trial and error because players are given all of the solutions at once. Unlike other puzzle games, there is no separation of the clues to assist the players. In this way, the game feels padded. It takes hours to figure out puzzle solutions if players follow the wrong set of clues. The only way that players know if they are successful is if they live, or if new objects appear.

For example, the mummy room has three stages. The first requires jar placement on the stones. The second is the placement of the scarabs. The third requires throwing the Ankh at the lights on the walls. Part one is hard because there are multiple cartouches on the walls, a plethora of symbols on the statues, and a bulletin board with even more symbols. The next part is logical but hard to determine the order. The third stage of the puzzle was easiest to execute but irritating because of the mummy chase, the indicator disappearing, and the inability to aim. Plus, the player that catches the object has no idea they have it! There is no audio indication nor does the character seem to react. As such, the puzzle sections relied too heavily on non-logical solutions and random chance.


The Running Portion:

The first running section gave me the impression that I would hate the game. While I expected swinging weapons, spikes coming through the ground, and being chased by mummies, I was not expecting the difficulty level to be ramped up at the very beginning. AmunRun's first running section has players fleeing from a boulder, but running and jumping through spikes and pendulums. After getting to the next section, players have to run back up and around, which is particularly stressful because a giant boulder moves toward you. Did I mention this is THE FIRST RUNNING SECTION? Right. Anyways, due to the difficulty level, I hated the idea of continuing the game because I died many times. What's worse is that progression only occurs if both players make it far enough to trigger the next checkpoint. Yay! (Not.)

That aside, what bothered me most about these sections stemmed from game issues like proximity to spikes that automatically kill players. Other times, players could be close to an object that should kill them, but doesn't. Sometimes, key inputs wouldn't register, making entire runs particularly useless. Plus, both players can get stuck if they are too far behind the other. Not only is there a restriction on movement speed, but they are hindered by the other player's speed! And with the inability to determine closeness to traps or to the other player, I threw in the towel on multiple occasions. But if the individual portions weren't frustrating enough, there were a number of issues that my partner and I came across that tanked the entire experience.


Game Issues:

The Amulet of AmunRun is a fully released game that has been out since April. As such, I expected that gameplay would be smooth and polished in some capacity. Unfortunately, that expectation was much higher than deserved. AmunRun has a multitude of issues that make the game almost unplayable, or at the very least difficult to enjoy. Below is a list of issues that my partner and I found during gameplay, separated into sections.

UI Issues:

     The menu options are limited. Among the missing features are: player join buttons that actually work, sensitivity speed options, lack of zoom functions, no options to optimize the graphics, ways to change keybindings, and no difficulty toggle.

     In order to join your partner, you must use the option through Steam. The in-game function doesn't work.

     Being a game that relies on speed and reaction time, the lack of sensitivity features is a detriment to gameplay.

     Since the graphics style of the game is almost polygonal and cartoonish, I noticed that several symbols are small or faded. This is why a zoom feature would be integral to the game. There are multiple puzzles that have tiny symbols that are impossible to see. Besides, not only does this add to the difficulty level of the game, but it also doesn't bode well for player accessibility either!

     Steam users comment about the keybindings automatically changing. Keybinds cannot be changed nor reverted by the players. If the game is so badly put together that the basic controls change, then there are deeper issues.

     Amulet of AmunRun doesn't have a difficulty toggle. In fact, I expected the difficulty level to gradually increase, but I was wrong. Players begin at Mission Difficult level without any options. While I may not be the most versed in this genre, I gave it a fair shot. I found there were simply too many issues to aggravate both my partner and I. In my opinion, the lack of adaptability in a non-souls-like game is just bad form.

     Another absent feature is a ping function. My partner and I resorted to shooting at objects to explain what we were thinking. Being able to point out clues with a ping would be a serious boon to the game.


Puzzle Issues:

     The first puzzle requires players to arrange papers on a corkboard that contain clues to the puzzle's solution. Unfortunately, aligning objects in any way is tough, especially in timed sections. This is neither fun nor useful. There are countless puzzle games that are difficult because of complex solutions, not because of a lack of gameplay options. In my opinion, these puzzles are difficult due to a lack of information and not because they are actually challenging.

     While several of the puzzles have some indicators as to their solutions, it is challenging to solve many of them. Each puzzle room has multiple stages that require solving, and there is no real way to determine which clues correspond to them. In fact, the only saving grace is the hint system, which gives players some semblance of direction. We used this feature to death and this is the only game that either of us has RELIED HEAVILY on hints. That said, the hallway with the switches we brute-forced, and the spike maze we cheated to progress.

     As a cooperative game, Amulet of AmunRun is not playable in a single-player mode. The moment one player dies, both must restart. While not uncommon, there are several sections that cannot be completed by both players. One such area is after the hallway of levers. There are spears that only one player can cross. Also, during the mummy chase, only one player can solve the puzzle. As in, one player is bored running around while the other tries to figure out the solutions.


Glitches and Bugs:

The Amulet of AmunRun contains several glitches and bugs. Puzzles are easily glitched which is the easiest way to progress without brute-forcing them. For example, during the boulder chase section, my partner and I found a glitch where I was untouchable. Thus, only he had to do the running. At the end of that puzzle, players had to put statues in specific spots to get through the door. The boulder MAGICALLY SPAWNS at the end while you both appear inside the room. But, I was still behind the boulder and he should have been killed by it? I've no idea what happened there.

In the mummy room, it was possible to pick up objects after a section was complete. After failing to solve the next part, the puzzle resets and the glitched object remains in your hands. The first problem is that objects remain in the player's hands. The second problem is that players don't know if they catch the Ankh. I couldn't see it in my hands and I died as a result. In order to fix this issue, my partner and I had to reload back to the menu.

Also in the mummy room, even when using the 'restart challenge', the jars don't reset! This is a particularly frustrating issue as one of the later puzzles requires another jar to get through the maze. If for some reason players died in this section, the jar doesn't reset and also requires restarting from the main menu.


My last point in this section is the shitty design and issues in the spike maze area. Firstly, this entire section is inconsistent. In order to pass it, players rely SOLELY on RNG. Secondly, even though the game requires you to bring the Ankh, it doesn't cause your death like in every other area prior. Thus, the thing can stay on the ground and will reappear at each checkpoint regardless of bringing it along. (As in, if you want to cheat the system, this is one location you can leave the blasted thing behind).

Thirdly, the lever to activate the puzzle doesn't always activate or it RANDOMLY RESETS ITSELF! Fourthly, the spike maze can be completely avoided by walking through one area! To do otherwise would require HUNDREDS of deaths because THERE IS NO PATTERN to the puzzle! You both have to HOPE the game will produce a safe path and in my opinion, this is a massive disservice to players. The inclusion of a puzzle like this is what we call a dick move.

Thank goodness only one player needs to get to the end in order to complete that particular section but by that point, my partner and I gave up on the game.


Final Thoughts

I really wanted to enjoy this game, but I just couldn't do it. There are too many issues littered throughout that make it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy. It's not even the challenge level or specific aspects that destroy the experience, it's inconsistent inputs, multiple bugs, and bad game design that kills AmunRun. Not only were my partner and I able to exploit multiple sections, but we encountered several problems that pad the experience. And as a person who doesn't like runners or insanely difficult games, I'd sooner die repeatedly in Elden Ring (which I have NO interest in playing) than finish this game.

Summary

The Amulet of AmunRun could have been a fantastic escape room game, but unfortunately, it fails. The game is a buggy mess, player inputs are inconsistent, the puzzles seem to rely on RNG, and many of the problem-solving locations lack information which forces players to guess the answers.

Aside from the overall graphical style and general concept of the game, there is nothing good about this title. I don't recommend purchasing this game. It had the potential to be a challenging and fun experience but fails spectacularly.

Score: 4 / 10


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