RUINER
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 9

RUINER is a cyberpunk-themed isometric shooter with fast, brutal combat. The game is very unforgiving, but players can unlock several abilities to help even out the odds. Most of the game is spent locked into combat arenas, but the inclusion of a hub world offers a nice break from the action. Although it is not a very long game, it is very stylish, lots of fun, and very challenging.

Gameplay: Skill is required to get very far, but it is worth the effort.

Graphics: The visuals are stylish and detailed, but the levels lack variety.

Sound: The soundtrack is incredible and matches the action perfectly

Summary 8.7 Outstanding
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RUINER

Developer: Reikon Games | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The year is 2091 and getting your brain hacked is just one of the perils of the cyberpunk world of RUINER. This is precisely the fate that befalls the protagonist of the game, who wakes up with a mask that he can’t take off and a mission to assassinate someone known as “The Boss.” However, a hacker named “Her” intervenes and instructs the protagonist to go on a rescue mission to save his brother instead. It is clear that the protagonist is being used by Her, who calls him “Puppy,” but with a lack of options, he does as instructed while murdering anyone that gets in his way.

RUINER is the debut title of Reikon Games, which consists of seasoned developers who have worked on titles such as The Witcher series, Dead Island and Dying Light. The game is an isometric shooter where players must use firearms and melee weapons to overcome impossible odds. The first order of business is to find the man who originally hacked your brain, which involves fighting through the psychotic gangsters he hired to protect him. Things quickly escalate, though, and Puppy will end up having to match skills with mercenaries, armed guards, cyborgs, and even AI foes.

Although Puppy is a ruthless killing machine, he can easily be overwhelmed by enemies. Thankfully, there are abilities and upgrades available that can help even the odds a bit. New abilities are unlocked by earning experience and increasing your Karma level. Players can then spend skill points to activate these abilities. Players can also use the skill points to upgrade each ability to make them even more potent. The great thing is that any ability or upgrade can be deactivated at any point, which allows you to retrieve the skill points and use them on a different ability. Abilities require energy to use but can make a huge difference in battle. For example, the energy shield allows you to block projectiles for a short period but can be upgraded so you can ram enemies with it as well. On the other hand, the kinetic barrier can also slow down enemies that pass through it and deflect projectiles in random directions. Other abilities include hacking enemies to make them fight on your side, summoning supply drops, throwing stun grenades, and slowing down time, to name just a few. The ability to chop and change your skills at any time makes it easy to adapt to different situations and adds some depth to the frantic combat.

Most of RUINER involves fighting waves of enemies before taking on mini-bosses and bosses, but it also has a hub area in the form of Rengkok. Here players can wander around and eavesdrop on conversations or take on side missions to earn extra Karma. Rengkok is relatively small, and the side missions reasonably simple, but it makes for a nice change of pace after slaughtering hordes of enemies.

The actual combat in RUINER typically sees Puppy being beset from all sides by enemies. His default weapons are a pipe and pistol with unlimited ammo, but players can also pick up anything dropped by enemies. There’s quite a variety of weapons in the game, but they are only useful until they run out of bullets as they cannot be reloaded. Most enemies in the game are not only fast and deadly but can teleport all over the place or shield against your attacks. This means that players must use every ability and trick at their disposal to survive the fights. Once dashing around enemies and retaliating because second nature, players can begin focusing on stringing together combos and improving the rating they receive after every round of combat. Enemies can soak up a lot of damage, and one misstep can cost Puppy his life, but the checkpoints are generally quite generous. RUINER also features three difficulty settings, but players can expect a challenge even on “Normal.” The game is quite short, and we were looking at the credits after about seven hours of playing on the “Normal” difficulty. However, there is also a New+ mode, speedrun mode, and Arena, which bolsters the replay value. Players can also unlock additional outfits in the Arena Coliseum.

Visually RUINER makes good use of Unreal Engine 4 to deliver a gritty cyberpunk vision of the future. Players can adjust the textures, anti-aliasing, shadows, post-processing, and effects, and with everything set to the max, the game looks pretty good. As we mentioned earlier, Rengkok is quite a beautiful setting, and the various underground levels look suitably dangerous and atmospheric. Unfortunately, there’s not much variety when it comes to the industrial-looking catwalks and dingy corridors of the actual levels. Enemy designs are also good, but due to the fast-paced and chaotic nature of the combat, it’s easy to get hit by stray bullets or explosions.

The soundtrack to RUINER is easily one of the best parts of the game, with tunes by Sidewalks & Skeletons, Zamilska, Antigone & Francois X, DJ Aline, and more. Susama Hirasawa is also featured on the soundtrack, and overall the music really adds to the atmosphere of the game. The audio usually ramps up when players are locked into combat arenas, and emerging victorious can feel like waking up from a trance because the music is so hypnotic. The sound effects are also decent, although the weapon effects are not as overpowering as other isometric shooters. Speech is also a little sparse but well used to encourage or mock the player. Puppy himself is a man of no words, and his dialog options in the infrequent conversations available are usually either shrugging or cracking his knuckles. He does wear his emotions on his LED mask, though, with messages such as “Kill You” and “Hello Darkness” frequently flashing across it.

RUINER can be played either with a controller or keyboard and mouse. We opted for the latter, but many other players find the controller to be more intuitive, so it will come down to a matter of taste. The game does have a few more buttons than what is usual for the genre due to the number of abilities at your disposal. The sensitivity for both control schemes can be adjusted, though, which is great. We also appreciate the UI options, such as being able to show or hide enemy health bars and so on.

We had an absolute blast playing RUINER, but some players might find the unforgiving difficulty a little frustrating. RUINER is a game that will punish you if you try and brute force your way through combat instead of making strategic use of your abilities. However, there’s nothing more satisfying than blocking a brutal barrage of bullets with your shield, dashing behind an enemy and hacking its brain, or slicing them to bits before stealing their weapon. The chaotic fights can sometimes result in cheap deaths, but you are back in the action with a tap of a button, thanks to the frequent checkpoints. Combat can become repetitive, but the sheer amount of variety when it comes to weapons and abilities helps to keep things fresh. It’s a pity that the game is so short as it absolutely oozes style, and we would have loved to see more environments like the hub area.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 x64
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-760 (4 * 2800) or equivalent / AMD Athlon II X4 645 AM3 (4 * 3100) or equivalent
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 460 (1024 MB) / Radeon HD 6850 (1024 MB)
  • Storage: 10 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 x64
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4670K (4 * 3400) or equivalent / AMD FX-6350 (6 * 3900) or equivalent
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 660 (2048 MB) / Radeon HD 7970 (3072 MB)
  • Storage: 10 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint 18.3, Debian 9, Fedora 27
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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