Devolver Digital are beginning to pick up a pretty good reputation for publishing some damn good games, with the likes of Hotline Miami, Enter the Gungeon and Talos Principle all coming to mind. They are also getting a growing reputation for publishing games that are ball’s to the wall difficult. RUINER is a cyberpunk action game, developed by Reikon Games, releasing on PC, PS4 and XboxOne on September 26, 2017.
RUINER is set in the year 2091, in the cyber metropolis of Rengkok. You play as a nameless character, who is lashing out against the corrupt society in the city, and you must find your kidnapped brother with the help of a “hacker friend”. To begin with I thought the story would be complex and difficult for me to follow along with, but this is one of the few games in recent times where I have really become invested with the plot. The characters are presented to you in such a way that you get really engulfed in their personality. There is certainly some unique characters, and the both nameless and speechless protagonist really lends itself to being the Gordon Freeman of the future.
Whilst I did enjoy the story no-end, the twists and turns that it takes along the way, along with the ending are very predictable right from the start. You won’t be surprised when it happens if you have any sort of previous knowledge of how this sort of game setting tends to work out. With all that being said though, it’s one of the better plot lines I’ve seen in an indie game lately.
To be honest, it was RUINER’s screenshots that initially drew me to the game. It just looks stunning, and those screenshots really mimic what you see in game. As the game is played from a top down isometric view, you really get a angle of the world around you. No stone has been left unturned in RUINER’s world. NPCs are very well animated, and there are plenty of individual models for a wide array of civilians when you are roaming the city of Rengkok. The enemies you come across as well are nicely modelled and ooze personality. I particularly like the quick introduction scene to new enemies when you encounter them, giving you a brief outline of their skills, but also highly stylised drawing of the foes in question.
The cyberpunk setting allows for plenty of special effects and eerie environments to be shown off. The lighting effects are spectacular. The in game graphics are very high in quality, although something felt a little “off” with the cut scenes. Whether they were trying to for a cinematic effect, or what, I don’t know, the animation throughout the scenes were not exactly on par with the rest of the game’s presentation and came across as a little janky.
RUINER isn’t voice acted, but this is one of the rare occasions where I feel the game has been negatively affected by it. The way the characters are presented in their 2D sprites during dialog scenes allows you to picture their voices in your head as you are reading the dialog. Normally when a game is completely text based I find it hard to follow along with the story too; that wasn’t the case here. RUINER also has a pretty bad-ass soundtrack to go along with the cyberpunk-esk sound effects. All in all, the game’s production values are very high and are one of the strongest points of the title.
Much like many of Devolver Digital’s other games, RUINER is no different in being a really difficult game. You start the game with a decent tutorial that introduces the core game mechanics, but in good gaming fashion, your character is taken back to ground zero and loses all of the skills due to being “hacked” and having your memory wiped.
As the meat of the game begins you have a very basic character that is armed with a lead-pipe, again, akin to Gordon Freeman, and a basic pistol. It’s the start of the game that will really challenge you the most , as you have such a bare-bones character to play around with, your true skills will need to be on point. As you progress, you will gain Karma, which is the game’s experience points system. Levelling up your character will reward you skill points that can be used to learn new abilities and improve the ones you already have. Unlike other games that use a talent based tree system, RUINER allows you to re-arrange your skill points whenever and however you want. Allowing you to min-max your build to satisfy any situations. Once you reach the upper levels of 20+, you will really have an arsenal of abilities to play around with that allows you to tackle any sort of challenge with a degree of ease.
I played the game the whole way through using keyboard and mouse, and even though it is quite clearly possible to play the game with them, I feel as if you are going to get a much better experience using a controller. It didn’t feel very fluid controlling a character from a top down view using WASD, and the analog sticks on a controller felt much better. It’s a shame you can’t get pinpoint accuracy on a controller like you can a mouse. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
Most of the game’s missions involve navigating the cyberpunk environments, or taking out bosses. RUINER doesn’t have any sort of complex puzzles or quest objectives that leave you mulling over them. It’s straight up fast paced action. The combat system is hard. Enemies are unforgiving, and the way the game uses health and shields makes you really think on your toes. Your health will be depleted in a matter of seconds even against the most basic of foes. You have to keep moving, and use your abilities to your advantage. Many boss fights will require you to respec your ability points to counter how the boss is set out, so you will be glad of the instant respec mechanic. This is certainly a game to test your reaction times on.
RUINER should take around eight to ten hours to complete, as there are a handful of side quests you can tackle too, this can add an hour or two on, but from the ones I played, they aren’t anything to shout about. A minor kill quest and hunting for objects. Not exactly Witcher 3 levels of side quests, but they are there for those who want to explore the Cyberpunk world some more. Priced at $19.99, RUINER offers a highly recommended quality experience that fast paced-actions fans will definitely enjoy.
- Thrilling story
- Gorgeous graphics
- Challenging gameplay
- Cut scene animations let it down slightly
- Poor selection of side quests