Welcome human, to our future. This bleak, apocalyptic world that is falling apart at the seems. Luckily for you, this is the least of your concerns, it would seem. Someone has hacked into your brain and has forced you to do something totally wrong – but you don’t know that. You’re a guy doing the wrong work and that’s going to cost ya! Just when you are getting closer to your goal, you find out you’ve been lied to. Someone set you up. They also happen to have your brother imprisoned. With no clue on where he is or what to do, you’re thrust into this savage landscape.
Game Name: Ruiner
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), PS4
Publisher(s): Devolver Digital
Developer(s): Reikon Games
Release Date: 9.26.2017
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Underneath this dark and apocalyptic world setting is a very interesting iso-metric twin-stick shooter. Instead of playing in a specific area or location, the game plays more akin to an RPG. You have sections where you’re doing dungeon crawling, searching for your next objective. One moment you’re walking run, picking up weapons and dispatching enemies. The next, you’re up to your neck in chaos with mid-level objectives and end level boss fights. Once completed, you head out to the city which serves as the game’s hub and gives you access to various other things for you to do.
You have access to both melee and ranged attacks. Melee comes in the form of a pipe at the start, with you picking up various other objects during the game. You have a basic swing that does moderate damage. However, if you hold down the melee button you can pull off a powerful charged melee attack. The downside is that it leaves you open while using it. So you’ll have to gamble on using it or not. Ranged is performed with a huge selection of sci-fi influenced weapons. Futuristic shotguns, small machine guns, pistols, flamethrowers and more. Though I found myself using the melee over ranged due to the how the controls handled. I’ll talk that point in a bit. You also have access to a dash that can be used to close distances or get out of harm’s way. Tapping the dodge button performs this, however, it has a second function. If you hold down the dash button it allows you to set up to three points and slows down time. You can then mark those points and then race to those points. This is useful for planning attacks, or devising ways on how to get out of a sticky situation. I’d say it is perhaps your best tool in your arsenal.
As you progress through the game, you pick up points called karma. These karma points are then used to acquire specific skills that are handy for staying alive. Things like a shield that reflects objects, taking less damage, stronger attacks, more health and more. Accessing those skills during battle is as simple as pressing the radial menu button and picking from those you have available. Honestly, the skill tree that you have access to is vast and you’ll never get access to everything. Thankfully you can always change up the skills you have access to, as long as you have karma points. Don’t have enough karma points? That’s ok, as you can remove them from other skills. This ensures that you’ll have a unique experience, assuming you can be bothered to switch abilities.
Graphically, this game shines. The art style gives way to a world that is very similar to Shadowrun and Bladerunner. A futuristic landscape that is dark, grim and ready to fall about at any moment. Streets are littered with people that are looking to just stay alive, looking for a good time or looking to end your days. Neon lights illuminate the city, while the grim atmosphere is so thick you can almost cut it. While other areas, like the starting location, looks like it was pulled straight from an anime – with its industrial look. Complete it desolate lighting, reflective surfaces and pitch black spots that are perfect for being ambushed. There’s a healthy amount of shadows and post-processing going on as well.
To say that this game impressed me graphically would be an understatement. This game looks simply amazing. Reikon Games has done their homework here. My review was conducted on the PC and what an experience it was. From the start, I was able to play with a constant 1080p@60fps. No slowdown, no frame rate drops, nothing. Looking to see how far I could go, I switch the game to 4K and the game still never skipped a beat. Sadly, ultra widescreen owners, such as myself are out of luck. There is no 21:9 support here, at least not yet.
Then there are the sounds, which are every bit impressive as the visuals. This game has a huge amount of death cries, random spoken words – with a few curses for good measure. Sound effects such as gunfire or blunt objects hitting their marks are clear and precise. And then you hear that electronic music just rushing over you. Suddenly you’re no longer playing a game, you’re actually in sort of cyberpunk world. Either that or you somehow wandered into an ongoing rave. The only rub is the what few spoken words that are said, they get repetitive.
Everything so far sounds good, right? Well, let’s talk about what’s not so great – the controls.
Movement is handled by using the left analog stick, while the right handles the aiming duties. Still, I was a bit discouraged when I found that you aren’t able to remap the buttons in the PC version. While this isn’t a deal breaker, I wasn’t a fan of how certain buttons were configured and wanted to change it. That said, it shouldn’t be too unrealistic to expect to see the ability to remap the buttons. Sadly, the troubles with the controls only continue from here.
The sensitivity in the game is also not adjustable and it hurts. While the melee combat is fluid, when you’re aiming with ranged weapons, it becomes a battle with the controller. At times you’ll either overcompensate or not enough, which leads to a bit of frustration and usually, death. Thankfully that only extends to the controller, while using the keyboard and mouse combo is just fine. However, the game or rather the design has a flaw as well – movement orientation. When you move in any direction, your character won’t. Meaning if you’re trying to survive in a fight and you’re moving backward, the character will still be looking in the same direction prior to that. It’s awkward and services to confuse at times. If move east, I expect my character to face that direction unless I’m forcibly turning him in another direction.
You are able to use a DualShock 4 controller with this game, with a slight issue. The radial screen doesn’t open up when using it, which is quite the problem. The game also doesn’t show the Dualshock 4 controller upon connecting it, and the button prompts don’t change. This tells me that the Dualshock 4 isn’t officially supported as of now. I’ve reached out to Reikon Games and Devolver Digital to see if that is in the cards or not.
Despite the issues that I pointed out, the game is still quite enjoyable. It took me about 7 hours to finish the game on normal. Though I wager I would have done it sooner had I not died so many times. The game is hard, even on the normal setting. I don’t even want to see it on hard if we’re being honest. Thankfully, once the game is beaten you can replay any level of your choosing. Outside of that, however, there’s little reason to return to Ruiner‘s world and that’s a shame.
Review Disclosure Statement: A copy of Ruiner was provided to us by Devolver Digital for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Ruiner is a fast-paced, hectic game of survival, cast in a cyberpunk filled future. A brilliant twin-stick shooter that is sadly riddled with control issues. Yet so full of fantastic artistic stylization, extremely pleasing visual and some pretty technical tricks. Definitely a good strong showing for Polish developer Reikon Games. Here’s to hoping that those control issues are patched. Because if they are, then you’re looking at one hell of an experience for under $20. And if they aren’t, it’s still a fun journey, as long as you don’t mind a few bumps in the road.
- Fantastic visuals
- Performs great on the PC
- That soundtrack… OMG
- The controls need a bit of help
- Confusing movement orientation
- A bit short for my tastes