Ruiner is a brutal action shooter from Devolver Digital and Reikon Games. It initially released on PC back in 2017, and it has finally made its way to our beloved Switch console. It has been over two years since Ruiner released, so it makes one wonder, “Are we getting an improved version of this sophisticated and brutish game? Or is this a lazy port that carries with it the problems of the original?” Well, I am here to tell you that this is a dream on Switch. Let me tell you why!
It is unfortunate that the one disappointment with Ruiner has to do with our first area of critique, and that is its story.
That does not mean the story is bad. Quite the contrary, it is engaging and sucks you into a world that feels so dangerous and dark. It is just a bit disjointed at times, and the presentation of the story, in the form of static artwork, feels like it is lacking something.
In the year 2091, the city of Rengkok is a corrupt yet enticing shithole. Violent and murderous street kids flood the back alleys, and corporate guards let you know where you do not belong. A failing conglomerate known as HEAVEN controls everything from the military to the world of entertainment, and everyone else is just trying to stay alive.
You play as a silent protagonist that is given the name Puppy, and Puppy is being controlled by a vicious hacker named Wizard and being ordered to kill the Boss. Thankfully, you are rescued and rebooted by a mysterious hacker named Her, and you are informed that your brother has been kidnapped by HEAVEN, which leads to Puppy having to tear the city to shreds in order to find him. This is basically where our story begins.
The cyberpunk world can be intoxicating at times, and the story often finds ways to suck you in despite its constant leaning on brutality. Following Puppy through his journey of discovery and blind obedience is a unique one, but it does suffer a little bit from how the story is told more than the quality of the story itself.
Ruiner is a unique twin-stick shooter that implements mind-breaking skills and gadgets in a way that will wow you and obliterate your enemies.
The game controls so well, and the use of “bullet time” to help you get a grip of the situation works wonderfully. The amount of times I walked away from a scenario feeling like a total badass is immeasurable, because it nearly felt that way every single time.
The feel of the combat is rather impressive, and the freedom and fluidity of alternating between melee weapons and ranged weapons to create some exquisite combos shows just how much love and dedication went into the programming. This is a game that values the quality of its experience over anything else.
Ruiner is played from an isometric perspective, and it demands an aggressively quick playstyle and even a methodical approach when going after enemies and bosses.
One of the cool-factors in the game is the ability to quickly change out weapons on the fly, with things like swords, pipes, grenades, Uzis, shotguns, and more at your disposal. There is never a dull moment when choosing your instrument of death to paint the canvas crimson and make your mark known. It can be grim at times, but this is a game that offers an exposed and dark journey of blood, sweat, and tears. This is exactly where Ruiner shines the most.
Dashing is something that adds another element to the battle scenario, and in the wake of Souls-like games becoming a major genre, Ruiner possesses a few Souls-like mechanics in its own unique way. Learning to dash away from or into an enemy becomes key, and learning how to chain dashes and attacks together to take out multiple enemies in sequence is cool beyond measure.
Experience, also known as Karma, is received by killing enemies and bosses, opening crates, and disposing weapons after battle, and you will gain skill points for leveling up. These skill points can be applied to some incredible abilities that will make you an even more dangerous force to be reckoned with. Abilities like Kinetic Barrier, which deploys a stationary forcefield that blocks projectiles and slows down enemies, and Ghost Break, which forces your enemies to fight for you, are two that I fell in love with and became quite dependent on in my first playthrough. When I started a second playthrough, I wanted to gravitate towards those two again because of my attachment to them, but I forced myself to try different ones. These abilities truly help customize the experience to your liking, and there are ones for any type of player out there.
Difficulty and skills can actually be changed at any time, which makes the game very accessible to more players. Getting locked to one difficulty can be annoying if you are a few stages in and feel that it is too easy or too difficult for you, so being able to test the different difficulties in the midst of a stage is commendable. Skill points can also be reset so you can distribute them elsewhere, and that is quite helpful when you invest in a skill that you do not like or naturally connect with.
Boss battles are one of the areas of the game that excited me the most. The way they evolve each time puts your skills to the test like few before, but never once did these battles feel unfair. These are very inventive encounters, and some of the melee scenarios are wildly satisfying.
Another Souls-like element in the game is how quickly you can perish, which is why if you do not move or attack, you will most likely die. But just like with the boss battles, combat in general always feels fair and death falls on the fault of the player. Each and every enemy encounter gives you enough wiggle room to escape, but it is up to you to figure out where that space is and how to get through it. It is a game unlike many others, and it is something that needs to be witnessed to be fully understood.
The music in Ruiner is simply outstanding. The way it compliments the violent journey and drives certain sounds into the actions is breath-taking and makes for an entrancing experience. The developers did a phenomenal job collecting a special group of artists to contribute to the banging soundtrack. The music is absolutely the highlight of this game.
Guns and other sound effects are executed to near-perfection, and the overall sound quality of the game surpasses most indies by a country mile. Ruiner‘s sound is so good that you would think they spent millions of dollars on this area alone.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
To put it simple, this is a game that oozes visual style. Through the blood-soaked corridors you will be fighting various enemies, perfect lighting beams through and washes the objects on screen with vibrant color, especially red. The cyberpunk theme allows for neon colors to splash the screen in a way that makes it feel so futuristic and sci-fi. It does not matter whether you are in the menus or busting your way through a warehouse, Ruiner looks gorgeous throughout.
It also performs flawlessly on the Switch. I personally experienced no hiccups, lag, or bugs in my couple playthroughs which helped maximize my time with the game.
Ruiner is a hearty $20 game. The campaign will take you around 8 hours to clear, but this is one of those game that draws you back in for another playthrough or two in order to try out other skills. There is something about the look and feel of the game that just makes it so fun, and it is a reminder that single player games do not need a bunch of fancy bells and whistles to keep players entertained. Sometimes, like the good ol’ SNES days, we simply need a top-quality 8-hour experience that is worth revisiting.
This is a game experience with very few flaws, and it looks and performs excellently on the Switch in both docked and handheld mode. This is a game absolutely worth the asking price. You have my recommendation! And I swear that is me saying that and not some hacker controlling me… I… swear…
Ruiner Review provided by SwitchWatch.co.uk
Review also available on OpenCritic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Raikon Games
Release Date: June 18, 2020
Price: $19.99, £17.99, €19,99
Game Size: 7.4 GB
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Audio - 10/10
Visuals & Performance - 9/10
Value - 8/10
Ruiner is a game that bleeds style. It is cool beyond measure and holds itself high with its stellar soundtrack and gorgeous visuals. The story could have used a bit more in its presentation like some voice acting, but overall it is a great narrative that will keep you engaged from start to finish. This is a classic-style game that leans strongly on the game at hand and not needing to depend on online mechanics, and it is accessible to anyone whether you are a veteran of the genre or a beginner.
- Visuals and soundtrack
- Fluid and fun combat
- Amazing style and aesthetics
- Story presentation is lacking something