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Video Game / Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages

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Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages is a top-down space shooter with RPG Elements that was developed over the course of six years by brothers Paul and Enrique Dryere of Triple.B.Studios, originally based on their novel, Ring Runner: Derelict Dreams. It was released on Steam on July 19th, 2013.

Far in the future, humanity has spread across the universe as part of the Consortium of the Inner Rings, an empire ruled by the Sophians. One of the groups of people in the CIR are the Sages, Reality Warpers who can alter quantum space to achieve effects that look like magic. Because of their power the CIR has decreed that Sages are too dangerous to be continued to allowed to exist.

The story begins with a nameless protagonist waking up in a space station's medbay on an operating table. A Neuro-HUD named Nero has been implanted into their brain. Sirens suddenly sound, and the protagonist seizes a ship and escapes. They then search for answers on who they are. As they make their way through the universe, they discover that the reason they were in the medbay in the first place was to get surgery to become a Sage.

The main selling point of the game is the massive amount of customization available to the player. Ships are sorted into five archetypes: Arsenals, Casters, Fighters, Grapplers, and Rogues. Many ships mix and match aspects of archetypes, letting you pick whatever combination you want. The creators have stated that they wanted new ship abilities to be "side-grades" instead of straight upgrades. For example, you might replace an energy hammer that can knock back enemy projectiles with a giant magnetized drill that draws enemies towards it, or choose between a launcher that fires missiles in a circle around your ship, a missile that makes the target slow down, or a passive ability that makes missile attacks heal you.

Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A God Am I: Valkaros
  • Amnesiac Hero: "Patient X9564T lost significant brain tissue during operation. Severe brain damage and memory loss are expected. No refund; sequester subject's ship and tell them they took a taxi."
  • Asteroid Miners: The first users of Grapplers were asteroid miners who found out that the cutting rays, tractor beams, and heavy armor they used for mining worked just as well on bandit hulls.
  • A Taste of Power: Your first ship is a top of the line racing craft with a teleporter and laser shotgun... which gets blown up about fifteen minutes in. Your second ship is an old missile boat your Voice with an Internet Connection found in a landfill; it's centuries out of date, handles like a turtle, and has a movement ability based around setting off the missiles while they're still attached to the ship.
  • Big Bad: The Consortium of the Inner Rings, also known as the CIR. They hunt sages mercilessly. Turns out they are The Dragon to Valkaros. After The Nameless Sage involuntarily kills Solipso, Valkaros rescinds his order to the CIR to leave Valkarian sages alone.
  • Body Snatcher: All Valkarian neuro-HUDs have overrides. Valkaros invokes this when Solipso and The Nameless Sage destroys the CIR Armada. Nero, reverting back to his programming, seizes control of the Sage's body, forcing them to kill Solipso while they can only watch. Nero has no control over this, and profusely apologizes to them when the deed is done.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: After you reunite with Solipso and learn that his wife is pregnant, the game takes a much darker turn. With their location discovered, the Sages are on the run from the CIR, with an armada after them.
  • Charged Attack: Often used by Casters.
  • Crosshair Aware: The Cruiser Strike Array and Starseeder have distinctive visual effects and sounds that play as they arm.
  • Crying Wolf: Rogues can equip a Tactical Teleportation Feint Device, which creates a hologram of themselves behind a specific ship. They can also equip a Tactical Teleportation Device, which actually places them behind the ship and increases the damage they do.
  • Cyborg: The Centrians make cyborg body parts out of scrap metal made from space wreckage that had been in battle.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Nameless Sage, with the help of Solipso's thread, manages to kill Valkaros, the creator of the Valkarians.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Gamma Hammer is featured on one of the prebuilt ships, and features a Spin Attack.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In lore, the fate of Atamal, home of the Valoraphs, and Earth. In-game, anything hit by an anchor round, used by a high-ranking enemy late in the game.
  • Earth That Was: Earth was blown up by the Sophians to force humanity to join the Consortium of the Inner Rings.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: When The Nameless Sage goes to attack the Second Bastion, Solipso's thread prevents Valkaros from reclaiming them, while also giving them a boost to health and an ability that melts through the CIR forces like butter.
  • Enemy Mine: The CIR will occasionally hire Sages to kill other Sages.
  • Escort Mission: There are a few missions where you have to defend another ship or cruiser, but in every case the escortee is fairly good at pulling their own weight.
  • Faceless Goons: According to Nero, the Nyrceffs are soldiers who have had their individuality taken from them. You don't actually see Nyrceffs in person, but they use a CIR symbol for their transmissions instead of a race symbol like other pilots, and they all fly the same model of ship (which contrasts with the huge variety of hulls that even other CIR groups field).
    Nero: They only make Nyrceff suits in one size, and they'll make it fit even if they have to blend you up and pour you in..
  • Faking the Dead: The Feign Death Device lets you make a decoy that gets blown up while you turn invisible and fly away.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel:
    • An unconventional form in the anchor drive. Instead of accelerating a ship past the speed of light, the anchor drive holds the ship in one part of spacetime, allowing the universe to move around them.
    • The caster drive was a "warp" drive that worked by altering space/time around the ship. Nowadays the anchor drive is used for actual travel, while the caster drive has found all kinds of fun combat applications.
    • The "Tactical Teleport" mentioned under "Crying Wolf" fits the Jump Drive subtype quite well.
  • Featureless Protagonist: We never hear the protagonist's voice or see their face, and they have no memory of before the space station. This is because they were 'born' on the space station.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots, especially pertaining to The Nameless Sage's status as a Valkarian. For example, when the king of the Mohmils in the Litter Glitter Galaxy attempts to collect the bounty on Sages, the CIR scans the Sage's ship, before immediately leaving, saying that they can't take them.
  • Fragile Speedster: Fighters have poor shields, but excellent engines.
  • Genetic Memory: Sophians have hereditary memory.
  • Global Currency: Plex is used as a universal currency, being a basic material component that can be used to make almost anything.
  • Hack Your Enemy: The Rogue's Gemini Array (a communication device) can be used for tricks such as shutting down an opponent's weapons or shields.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Nameless Sage and the other Valkarians, being hybrids of Solarians and Valoraphim. What makes this exceptional is that Solarians and Valoraphim can't interbreed.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hapty intercepts Stygil to buy some time for the Sages to escape into anchorspace. This results in Hapty being obliterated by an anchor round.
  • Hologram: The Rogue Subterfuge Systems node is essentially a hologram generator that can do things such as make holograms that explode or follow a specific opponent.
  • Human Alien: Valkarians look outwardly human, but their physiology is different enough to where a toxin that is fatal to Centrians has no effect on them.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: Humans are often called Solarians.
  • Human Subspecies: Centrians and Eidolans. Centrians collect cybernetics like tattoos, regardless if they're useful or not, while Eidolans make use of sophisticated holoneural technology to appear strikingly attractive.
  • Humongous Mecha: The D5F Wolf Angel hull.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: The anchor drive lets ships go faster than light by fixing them in place and letting the universe rotate around them. The only safe places to do this are the Rings and the Clipways, which are areas that have been removed of all space dust that can impact a ship in anchorspace and obliterate it.
  • Hypocrite: The Consortium, which is controlled by the Sophians, says that Sages need to be destroyed because they're too powerful...and then deploys their own Sage forces who only target non-Sophian Sages.
  • I Call It "Vera": Zarix's space flail, Thorna.
  • Immortality Seeker: Played with. If someone gets old enough they get a condition called wanderlust, when their soul becomes bored with the universe. If they don't do increasingly "interesting" things, their soul will eventually leave their body while their body drops dead. Everyone we meet who has wanderlust therefore engages in activities that would be more appropriate for a Death Seeker, because that's what keeps souls interested.
  • Life Drain: The Siphoning Warheads, Siphoning Mine Cores, and Siphoning Rig are passive abilities that heal you for some of the damage you deal when you land a hit with rockets, mines, or melee.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Grapplers have excellent shields, mobility, and attack power, but have few long-range weapons.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: One of the things expectant mothers can do is "bake" the baby, which involves carrying the baby for what could be years while the baby absorbs information and gets their genes fine-tuned.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: A specialty of Arsenals.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The main offensive node for Rogues is the Gemini Array. Unlike other archetypes, which are fairly point-and-shoot, the Gemini Array depends on placing targeting beacons on enemies and then spending the beacons to create effects such as firing salvos of homing rockets or shutting down the target's weapons. Rogues are expected to use their Cloak and Subterfuge Systems to give themselves the time needed to set the beacons up.
  • Mighty Glacier: Arsenals carry big guns, but are big and slow.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Aozora Nine has only average health but can equip up to three abilities that let it cheat death. The game describes the ship as being "extremely hard to kill."
  • Our Souls Are Different: They're called threads, all living things (even bacteria and fungi) have them, and they can be used to generate power. A ship's anchor drive can be powered by a fish's soul, for example.
  • Overclocking Attack: Certain weapons can add to the target's energy or heat pools, eventually resulting in them overloading or overheating. Overload weapons are mostly used by casters, while fighters have a number of overheat weapons.
  • Overheating: Played with. For most ships, overheating is a bad thing. Fighters, however, want to build up heat because it can be used for Fighter-specific abilities such as increasing weapon damage or having heat absorb damage instead of shields.
  • Physical God:
    • Sages. They are able to manipulate reality down to the subquantum level. This is why the CIR are so driven to exterminate them.
    • Valkaros also counts. He created the entire Valkarian race.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Destroying all weapons on large structures and spaceships makes them emit a chain of explosions and parts of their hulls turn to char as they "sink" into space for a while before blowing up.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Valoraphim. They look exactly like humans, except for angelic wings on their back. This wasn't always the case; their current form is due to extreme genetic manipulation over centuries. Any depictions of their previous form have been destroyed.
  • Self-Duplication: The Forked Path Catalyst lets you create copies of yourself.
  • Serious Business: Franchise wars, Racing, DVORAK vs QWERTY...yeah, that's a lot of things being fought over.
  • Shield Bash: The Shield Bash is a short-ranged weapon that damages and knocks back enemies.
  • Shout-Out: You get to say "Is it not enough? Are you not entertained?!" during The Rat and the Hawk mission.
  • Shrink Ray: Inverted. The Plexonic Accretion Ray increases the size of an opponent, which makes them easier to hit.
  • Stealth in Space: Rogue ships have hulls coated with a material called perlite, which allows them to become invisible.
    Dominus Delooese: Every time we have a Rogue battle, I hear the same complaints. It's always: "I can't see them." "It's too confusing." "How many times did that guy die?" Well, switch yourself to adult mode and deal with it!
  • The Chess Master: Valkaros. He was responsible for giving a Corona to Solipso, the first non-Sophian Sage, who was then able to create coronas in turn, giving power to other new sages.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone fears Stygil because her ship's main gun can blow up planets in a single shot and is impossible to block, and she's crazy enough to use it on everything.
  • The Empire: The Consortium of the Inner Rings controls pretty much all known space.
  • The Nameless: The protagonist starts out without a name, and eventually becomes known as the Nameless Sage.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Several types of teleporters are available as equipment.
  • Time Machine: The Time Fracture Generator and Critical Time Loop are both used to recover damage you've taken, by reverting you to before you took that damage while leaving the effects of your actions in place.
  • Tractor Beam: Used by Grapplers.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Nero would have you believe that he runs exclusively on peanut butter cups.
    • If the Familiar Stranger from Sib-City is anything to go by, all Neuro-HUDs have a major Sweet Tooth.
  • Unobtanium: Duril. Massive ship brawls are fought over even a single molecule. Your character is hunted by many people partly due to you being a sage, which means you have 42 said molecule inside your head, making you extremely valuable to cash in.
  • Uriah Gambit: King Kruegler holds the player's cruiser hostage, and asks that they do a series of tasks for him before he'll return it. The last task is to destroy his enemy's stronghold... by going straight into it by yourself.
  • Vehicular Combat: You can participate in races for money. Most of the races let you take your guns with you onto the racetrack.
    Warden Wilma: The only thing this crowd likes better than fast winners is explosive losers.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Some ships can get descriptors such as "hard to kill," "low durability but hard to kill," and "extremely hard to kill" depending on how tough they are and how many abilities they can equip that let them come back from death.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time moves much more slowly in the Subrostrum. Solipso once meditated for centuries in the Subrostrum. When he came out of the meditation, only a few seconds had passed.