Someone doesn’t like Boss, owner of the mega corporation Heaven. So they hijacked your brain and sent you to kill him. Luckily a perky hacker girl has interfered, and now you are on the warpath to take back your life and rescue your brother.
Ruiner is an isometric shooter set in a dystopian cyberpunk style future city. Players are tasked with controlling the protagonist as he fights his way through waves of enemies and powerful bosses, in an effort to save his brother and reclaim his stolen life. Along the way the player collects Karma, which can be spent on abilities and upgrades.
These abilities are an important part of the game. They provide the player with combat options like dash, slow time, and heal. This complements the straight forward nature of the weapons, which largely provide different types and rates of fire, or varying strengths and speeds of melee hits.
The protagonist can carry two weapons, one gun and one melee, which he can swap between on the fly. As weapons run out he switches back to his base gun and pipe, making the player constantly be moving to pick up new items from fallen foes. Picking up, and swapping, weapons is as easy as a button press.
The main story revolves around missions, with each being made up of a number of levels. Missions are linked via a hub area, where the player can undertake non-combat related side-quests and meet characters who will reward them for completing certain tasks during missions.
Ruiner succeeds on a few fronts. It presents a beautiful, though confronting, cyberpunk setting which is extremely well realised. There is a dirty vibrancy to the world, in both the levels and the background fiction, accessible through data files. A lot of thought has gone into the construction of the Ruiner world, and how this incorporates into the game experience.
The audio and visuals, too, are amazing. There is an interesting marriage of 3D models and hand drawn artwork which only accentuates the morbid nature of the cyberpunk setting. The music too is an undulating pulse of punchy electronica layered with tribal vocals, an excellent complement to the stop-and-start nature of the action.
Unfortunately one of the places the game falls apart is in movement, which is one of the primary mechanics of the game. While the game play is fast paced the character movement can be quite sluggish. Sometimes it feels like moving the protagonist around is like sliding a brick across the screen. The player feels constrained, which the limited camera mobility doesn’t help to alleviate. This is also compounded with the protagonist’s movements being quite ponderous, especially when compared to the mobility of the AI enemies darting about the levels.
The game play pacing seems a little off, too. There are long stretches where players will just run up corridors, breaking open a couple of loot chests, before entering the next arena to slay hordes of minions. Nothing new in terms of game play challenges, or even tactics, is ever introduced. Each mission follows the same beats; run up corridor, fight enemies, run up another corridor, fight boss.
Given the obvious time and effort spent to create the Ruiner world it would have been great to see this attention also given to polishing up the game play. And while Ruiner is extremely playable, the high quality aspects only make the average parts more visible.
Ruiner is one of those rare games which possess both style and substance. There is a lot of replayability in the game, with players able to focus on different upgrades as well as there being a fair selection of difficulty settings. However this is tempered by uninspired level design and muddy character movement. Fans of isometric shooters, or of well realised cyberpunk settings, will certainly get a lot of enjoyment from this. But anyone looking for a light experience, in either tone or game play, would best look elsewhere.
Ruiner is developed by Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital. You can find it right now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 5 hours