As a fan of twin stick shooters, Ruiner caught my attention the moment it hit the Xbox Live Marketplace. The promise of a sophisticated and brutal combat system piqued my interest but it wasn’t until after reading the full store description that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Ruiner takes place in the fictitious South-East Asian city of Rengkok City in the year 2091 which, even if they did not say so on the store page itself, it is clearly inspired by dystopian cyberpunk anime like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Appleseed. And, if you know anything about me, you know I love the dystopian cyberpunk setting. The game’s world is practically a love letter to those cult classics and it shows in every facet. Not only does this game deliver a beautiful world to explore as you travel from Heaven to Hell and back again, but it’s filled with a colorful cast of supporting characters as well as copious amounts of information about the world beyond what you see. It’s an amazing world to experience. So much so that I want Reikon Games to make another game in this universe and, if I had any say in it, I’d demand it be an open world RPG. The gameplay is as brutal as it is fun, forcing you to take up an adaptive game style while facing off against the varied foes that inhabit Rengkok City and beyond. It is very much an “adapt or die” styled game as you are constantly shifting between abilities, weapons, and fighting styles to better counter each enemy thrown at you. Some have easy solutions while others are a bit trickier to decipher.
Beautiful Art: One thing that surprised me a bit was the fact that the game had animated cutscenes overlaid with beautiful art. The art of each and every character is intricately detailed with great attenion to the minute details. Furthermore, each character’s art perfectly reflects who they are in this crazy world and further shows off the beautiful juxtaposition of those that call Rengkok City their home.
World Building: We are shown quite a bit of the world visually and are given the narrative through dialogue during our missions and when exploring Rengkok City. However, a large portion of the world building is done through the dialogue text that is given to us as we are introduced to new elements in the world. Abilities, weapons, enemies, characters, head hunt targets and even the world itself are all presented to us in informative blurbs as we delve deeper into Rengkok City and the world that exists all around it.
Diverse Weapons/Skills: With twenty seven weapons (a mixture of seven melee weapons and twenty ranged weapons) as well as thirteen abilities, there’s no shortage of ways to rain carnage down upon your foes. Firearms range from the Ruiner, the protagonists upgradable primary firearm, to freeze guns, flamethrowers, shotguns, rockets, all the way up to railguns while the melee weapons are mostly variations of swords with the odd flaming pipe and truck axle here and there. The abilities are quite varied and allow for a far more customized play than weapons alone. Energy shields, ghost break (a form of hacking your foes that forces them to fight for you until they die), supply drops, stun and frag grenades, reflex boosters and dashes are just some of the abilities in your arsenal. But, be warned, you will not earn enough Karma (Ruiner’s form of EXP) to unlock all the abilities with all their upgrades so choose carefully when heading into a fight. Luckily for you, you can mix and match abilities on the fly as the situation demands; no ability choice is permanent and no skill points are lost when changing abilities.
Lacks Voice Acting: I would have loved for Ruiner to have had full voice acting and I believe that the experience could have been better with the inclusion of this feature. There is some voice acting during the game but it is never during the cutscenes and mostly consists of hackers, some enemies, and a few random other characters here and there. Due to this and the color palette choice for some of the levels and text boxes, I did miss out on some of the in-game banter between characters.
Easy to Get Lost on Screen: Ruiner has a lot going on at times and, because of this, it’s sometimes easy to lose yourself. More than once, I had to use the reflex boosters to slow down time to find the playable character so that I could then turn around and murder everyone else on screen. This is sometimes made worse when several enemies, who’s primary mode of attack is dashing, zip around the screen while you dash after them, filling the screen with blurred characters all clashing as they come within arm’s reach of each other.
Controls: Sadly, the controls were not always as responsive as need be which, more than a few times, resulted in my death. The deploying of critical counter measures (such as the energy shield) would falter for a second which, in this hellish world, is more than enough time to be killed by any of the countless baddies gunning for you. I also found issues at times with the swinging of my melee weapon or the firing of my gun, placing the shot or blade just shy of its intended target and causing me to catch a bullet or slash of my own in retaliation. Responsive controls with pin-point accuracy should be a fundemental core gameplay feature for any and all twin stick shotoers.
Overall, I had a ton of fun with Ruiner. The setting was brilliant, the art style was spot on and the story was as dark and gritty as I had hoped for in a world such as this. Even the music was thoughtfully composed (even if it did loop at times), mixing in some instrumentals with the sounds of machinery to give a very industrial feel to the soundtrack which reflected the cyberpunk nature of the world perfectly. I was so pleased with how this all came together that I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping Reikon Games would make this universe into something we’d visit again in the near future.
Ruiner was developed by Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital. It was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (Reviewed) on September 26th, 2017 in North America and Europe. A press review copy was provided by the developer. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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