To review RuneScape in 2018 seems a largely redundant endeavour. The classic game is a staple of British culture; no-one who went to school between its initial release in 2001 and today hasn’t played, or at least heard of, the stalwart MMO. Developer Jagex has spent those 17 years constantly upgrading and amending the game to stay relevant, and in this spirit they’ve just released a mobile port of Old School RuneScape.
To the uninitiated; RuneScape has changed drastically through its lifetime, and fans idolise the 2007 build of RuneScape 2. In 2013, Jagex launched Old School RuneScape, an game identical to the 2007 build that’s maintained alongside standard RuneScape. It’s been a hit with the fans - enough to justify a mobile port, and enough to justify a review of said mobile port.
Thankfully, the port of the beloved game isn't just a treat for old or current players of RuneScape, but it's a great mobile game in general.
Old School RuneScape is impossible to divorce from the nostalgia and warm memories that 2007 RuneScape brings, and the game clearly banks on those feelings. Not only is the world returned to its noughties client but quests and skills released prior have been removed, the graphics are at their most uniquely and beautifully angular, and even the music has been replaced with the synthetic-sounding pre-remastered melodies.
Clearly the player base has been galvanised due to the release of the mobile port - each server was packed full of players grinding skills, going on quests and trading together. Not since the game’s prime many years ago has the world seemed so packed and alive.
Some beloved content from later builds of RuneScape have been removed, such as the summoning skill or the chaos tunnels location. However the reduced amount of content ensures the game retains its unique tone - RuneScape was aesthetically distinct because of its rather minimal appearance, and the pared-back looks and content retains this feel (standard RuneScape could definitely be accused of being cluttered).
The fact it’s a mobile port is made clear very quickly - many NPCs tell you to “right click”, and keyboard shortcuts are displayed at times - it seems the only time the game acknowledges you’re playing the port is in the tutorial island. However the HUD is a treat to use, and has clearly been redesigned for mobile devices. Windows can be closed and replaced to increase the gameplay window; clearly some of the positive elements of RuneScape 3 made their way into the port.
There are some problems, however. The game frequently freezes, resulting in the app having to be restarted. When the app is closed for too long, the player is logged out, which would be a good feature if it didn’t log out so quickly - often there isn’t time to open Spotify and choose a song before being logged out. On top of that, the app is a huge battery drain, and so you can't play for long periods of time away from a charger.
Despite these issues, the mobile port of Old School RuneScape is the shot of adrenaline the game needed to stay fresh. Jagex has distilled the game to its most basic and nostalgic core, and fine-tuned it perfectly to fit the mobile platform. But more than gameplay and tonal improvements, the mobile nature of the game brings a whole new layer of functionality tothe game. Grinding skills is a lot more convenient when you can do it while watching TV; modern tablets and phones are a lot more powerful than the computers most people owned back in 2007, and so the game is a lot smoother to play.
Old School RuneScape has never been as fun or as easy to play as it is on mobile devices, both for returning players seeking that nostalgic hit or new players who want to see what all the fun is about.