Review: Ruiner (PlayStation 4)

Ruiner: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation 4 2,333 views 7 likes 4 comments
Reviewed by Derek Bortz, posted Nov 17, 2017, last updated Nov 17, 2017
Nov 17, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): September 26, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): September 26, 2017
  • Publisher: Digital Devolver
  • Developer: Reikon Games
  • Genres: Twin Stick Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
I am a big fan of twin stick shooter games like Hotline Miami and one of those estranged Contra titles... lord help me, I can't remember which one now. Hopefully this title can breathe fresh air into a stagnant genre of games.
Derek Bortz

 

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Story

You start the game with amnesia more or less, even though they don’t come right out and say it. Your character wakes up with someone seemingly inside your head giving you slightly cryptic orders to “Kill Boss”. Because of the evolving form the story takes I won’t reveal much but the first mission reveals that your head was hacked and someone was trying to get you to perform nefarious deeds in their stead. A less chaotic evil hacker girl takes up residence in the void and guides you along in subsequent missions. You set off to find your brother since it was hinted that he was in captivity for leverage.

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Presentation

Ruiner is a top-down, slightly off centre isometric twin-stick shooter (or beat-em up, depending on how you play). Its violent, bloody, and full of death. The graphics are modelled 3D and look pretty good from afar, which is good, because that is how will you be experiencing the game. There are a few points where I felt the game was too dark or too saturated in color to really tell what was going on. In a few places your entire screen is covered in neon red light which can be a slight problem as your warp jump cursor is neon red as well. Which it’s only a minor inconvenience at best, I feel like those few areas made it hard to look directly at my tv.

Human characters and other on-screen assets are best viewed from far away. There are a few times where you see a close up of a full body rig and its pretty clear that the models are not meant to be Pixar quality animation pieces, but are serviceable for the most part.

The music is catchy but largely forgettable at the same time. Again, that is a good thing as you need both halves of your brain to deal with the situations Ruiner throws at you. The tunes suck you in and while you notice them at first, they fade fittingly into the background of the game, almost acting as a tool to keep you laser focused on fighting.

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Mechanics

Ruiner seems to aim at being a more technical (and slightly slower) Hotline Miami. Guns are not OHKOs, and most thugs need a least a couple of melee hits to finish off. Exploding barrels and traps set by street rats are around many a corner. You’re gonna die. A lot. Until you get the hang of things, and the game kicks it to eleven so you still die quite often. Luckily there are tools to help.

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Your bread and butter will be the teleport dash/melee. You start with the ability to dash a short distance with a little cost of cooldown. In mere minutes you gain the ability to chain teleports around set by little makers on the ground you set. These are incredibly helpful for dodging traps and around enemy fire, especially since bosses can do this too. Better melee weapons come with a limited number of uses. While they dish out a ton of damage you will find yourself breaking them and going back to the pipe, wishing melee weapons didn’t “break” At least I did.

There are guns lying around almost every time you kill a thug. I didn’t pay them much mind except to get a few pot shots off on a boss, or if they were spread-fire types. Most of the guns I found to be largely useless. It’s almost too hard to tell which direction you are facing to make good use of them and besides, they do so little damage and that leaves you open for someone to rush you and get some easy health knocked off of your bar. Something to note, guns are one and done. Once you empty the clip, drop it and move on because there is no reloading in Ruiner.

 

There is a whole screen devoted to upgrading your character and your abilities. Almost everything you can do is upgradable or unlockable on this screen. And you are going to need it.

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Something this game does not have going for it: cheating enemies. The first few bosses are not so bad, but they quickly up the ante. Within a few hours you are running into bosses with teleport dash abilities like you. Those fights get sweaty quick. But after that enemies gain the slightly more unfair ability to teleport anywhere. It’s certainly not game breaking, but enough to get under the average gamer’s skin. It’s one thing to have IA that cheats. Almost every AI cheats in order to stay ahead of the player. But when there is no effort to hide it is when it becomes irksome.

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There were a few instances where I found myself dying because of a slight delay when changing from gun to melee or vice versa. I am not sure if this is intentional but other gamers have noticed it too.

Pressing up on the D-pad sends the MC into his idle animation, which is push-ups. There’s even a counter for how many he does. There’s a trophy for doing 1003 in a row.  

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Ruiner Launch Trailer

Verdict
Pros
+ Frantic action
+ Satisfying/punishing combat
+ Extensive progression tree
Cons
- Cheap bosses
- Cheating AI
- Useless guns
8 Presentation
The music, visuals, and SFX all blend together into an overall positive experience. Only a few times do the visuals get "muddied" but an extreme saturation of red or some other color making the screen difficult to look at, but it's kinda rare.
8 Gameplay
Combat is both satisfying and punishing - and there is a pretty good sense of growth as you make headway through the game. Guns are one of the major issues with the combat that have no remedy. Only a handful are useful and you can almost never tell if the one on the ground is going to be any good till you pick it up and get wasted before learning which ones are worth your time.
5 Lasting Appeal
Personally, I will man up and figure out a strategy to beat a boss... once. While the game is initially fun to dash around and mash mobs into blood paste, the bosses really put pause to the flow of the game. Like stated before, you get out-sped by bosses early on and I don't see myself trying to finish them off again. In "lasting appeal's" favor is the fact that Ruiner is not a long game. If you are skilled enough, a second play-though would not take much time.
8.1
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
If you are a fan of top-down twin-stick games, Ruiner is for you. It's not perfect, but it's flaws are easily overlooked in favor of this cyberpunk dystopia. The gameplay is where it's at. Mapping dash points, dashing around and ruining your enemies with the tools you are given. It's short, not too sweet, and generally worth a play.
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