There are moments in the life of any player in which, beyond complex playable proposals, the body screams at us to discharge adrenaline in response to certain moments of stress or anxiety or simply for mere pleasure. At Reikon Games, an independent developer based in Warsaw and founded in 2014 by four industry veterans who have previously worked in franchises such as The Witcher, Dead Island or Dying Light, they were more than aware of this when, back in 2017, they launched RUINER on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A futuristic shooter with a marked cyberpunk cut that now lands on Nintendo Switch with a simple premise, at least in appearance, but that hides behind it a bet that aspires to be much more than a festival of action, shooting and bionic grafts. We delve into his untamed proposal to discover it, within analysis!
Warning: this video game is classified as PEGI 18, so minors should not be reading this review. The most sensitive people could be affected by some violent scenes.
And I’m going to ruin!
From the Latin brutālis, brutal is an adjective that is used to name that which is characteristic of animals for their irrationality or violence. And RUINER is, precisely, one of those titles that stand out for their brutality. A shooter set in a dystopian future that takes us to the year 2091 and to a cyber metropolis called Rengkok. The first minutes of the game make it clear that its main playable pillar will be none other than rampant action. And how could it be otherwise, our protagonist is none other than an unnamed psychopath, one more victim of a society of marked transhuman character, whose brain has been hacked. A visceral and violent individual who begins a crusade against the system to rescue his brother. Come on, what has been a full-blown Liam Neeson « Revenge ».
Pain, pleasure, guilt, innocence, freedom, slavery, good and evil, heaven and hell … Apply any label to a human experience and you will steal its truth.
Revenge, apart from Neesonian comparisons, is one of RUINER’s plot and playable axes. And this may mean that we are not faced with the most original story. However, it is precisely the way of expressing this narrative that invites us from the first moment to want to know more. And it is that some of the conversations that we have during the interludes between level and level do not have, philosophically speaking, any waste. If we take into account the genre that concerns us here, I cannot ignore that it has been a pleasant surprise …
His careful narrative presents us with the most varied characters
Combining good reflexes, a powerful arsenal and the continuous improvement of our character and his abilities is essential to advance successfully at RUINER. For this, the title has chosen, as usually happens in an increasingly recurring subgenre such as that of the shooter of double stick (twin-stick shooter), from a zenith perspective that makes its proposal clear from minute one of the game. And we do well to emphasize the use of the double stick, since if with the left we focus on guiding our movements, it is the right that allows us to aim. Something that reveals a control system that although correct, and with different rather intuitive shortcuts, has been designed to be squeezed with a mouse and keyboard.
With karma but without calm …
RUINER offers us the possibility to alternate at all times between melee attacks and others at a distance. Presenting before us a wide assortment of weapons ranging from pipes, swords, or batons to shotguns, pistols, lasers, and flamethrowers. On the other hand, the way to obtain said arsenal also has its own cause of justice. Hackable compartments, robots or even the corpses of enemies (after looting). Any of these options is valid to give, and here lies the kit of the question, with the most devastating equipment.
Of course, given that said weaponry breaks and has limited ammunitionWe can always, and this is up to us, give our assaults a certain strategic component or take advantage of the moments in which the opponents are « almost » knocked out to execute with one spectacular button and wild finishers. On the other hand, if we have noticed that melee weapons are relatively broken. Being, in many cases, considerably more effective than attacks with firearms. Something that, on more than a few occasions, resents the very playable balance of the title.
After completing the small tutorial, our mission begins and with it a series of relentless battles against different waves of enemies that attack us as we progress. Between wave after wave, we are presented with brief sections focused on the exploration and collection of objects and materials that, although they provide some variety, do not represent any differentiating element since they do not have any puzzle or mechanics to take into account. Be careful, this does not have to be a negative thing per se, since what RUINER comes to bring us is precisely large doses of action in its purest form. And this is where the game exploits its full potential. He combat not only turns out tremendously satisfying rather, it fulfills its task quite freely, serving as the perfect way to download of huge amounts of adrenalin.
As if that were not enough, the possibilities that we find here are not limited to choosing a weapon, but go much further. Karma (experience) deserves special mention. A system that is linked to our character and allows us to mold it at our whim. How? Simple. The title puts at our disposal, at the stroke of a wallet (of karma), an interesting tree with different abilities, to unlock or improve using the points obtained, which actively or passively affect our future during the constant waves of confrontations that occur regularly throughout the adventure. Skills that range from an increase in speed, energy shields or devastating attacks to even the possibility of slowing down time in the Matrix plan or hacking the different factions to fight alongside us.
On the other hand, the deployment of options at our disposal allows us from customizing clothing, to modifying the sensitivity of the command, activating or deactivating the assisted movement or enabling the different finishers that we mentioned a few lines above. As you can imagine, all this gives the game a capacity for personalization rarely seen in a title, like the one in question, eminently focused on action.
In addition, the system is endowed with certain particulars that make it even more dynamic and, to some extent (and we will talk about it later), profound. And it is that at any time we can reassign these points, allowing us to experiment with as many combinations as we need until we find our preferred style of play or simply the most suitable equipment to overcome a certain level. Playable speaking, we also did not find elements that break the dizzying pace of adventure. The loading times may be a bit excessive, but it is fully compensated by a quick reset system that avoids having to travel long distances after each death. The latter is greatly appreciated, since the game at hand, although it does not stand out for its complexity, has some spikes that can make us despair (especially in the levels of difficulty higher) at times.
A violent summer storm
RUINER has a total of 14 intense levels action packed and cyber dystopia. As if that were not enough, all the DLCs released to date in this title are included. Something that inevitably leads us to review one of the most outstanding (and wasted) additions, its Coliseum. A local arena, unfortunately for a single player, in which to test our skills and reflexes, facing waves of enemies ready to make things increasingly difficult for us. To all this is added a New Game +, a way speedrun that challenges us to overcome the different levels in the shortest possible time (eye to the rewards) and a rating system after finishing each phase.
On the other hand, we have a central space, to which we go between level and level, the Rengkok cyber metropolis. And we can say that his perfect recreation of a futuristic city, very much in the style of works like Blade Runner: do androids dream of electric sheep ?, is as accurate as superficial ends up being their utility. Utility that, unfortunately, is limited to different conversations and the occasional secondary mission. I can’t help but think that much more could have been made of that location.
The city is one of the most wasted resources, next to the Colosseum in RUINER
Summing up elements, and a few are already listed, we can estimate a duration that ranges between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the difficulty chosen and our own ability at the controls of a proposal loaded with its own personality. Unfortunately, and as we have previously commented, the game nor does it invite too much to replayability nor does it have any multiplayer modality. Something that, honestly, cries out for.
An artistic section with a lot of character
The graphic section of RUINER may not be very pointer. However, if we refer to its artistic and design side, it successfully reflects the cyberpunk, neo-noir environment, the most rampant action and the gore (not in vain we are facing a full-blown PEGI 18). To do this, it uses Unreal Engine 4 as the engine on which to support your proposal.
Of course, while the enemies, generally half human half mechanical beings, are created with the game’s own engine, we also have prerecorded scenes and hand drawings to show the different characters (especially during conversations). All of the above leads to a interesting cocktail that borrows, visually and artistically speaking, elements of works such as Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell or Matrix.
The result, in general lines, is satisfactory. However, the feeling left by the different scenarios through which we advance is somewhat wasted (technically speaking). Resorting, too often, to long and endless corridors and industrial areas where dynamic lighting leaves us practically in the dark. On the other hand, and despite being intentional, the low color variety ends up leading to a certain visual monotony. The title moves to 30 FPS most of the time. Although sometimes, especially in portable mode, the game suffers with the occasional scratch. Luckily, and except for those specific moments, RUINER defends itself quite well both with the console attached to the dock and in portable mode.
Entering sonorous terrain, we find a soundtrack with electronic touches and techno, composed by diverse and recognized artists such as Sidewalks & Skeletons, Zamilska, Antigone & Francois X, DJ Alina or the famous anime composer Susumu Hirasawa, who is committed to serving as our accompaniment environmental. And this, focusing the leading role on the action, which is not a negative thing in itself, ends up leading to a certain repetitiveness and monotony of sound (the antithesis of what a title of these characteristics could seek). That the variety of tracks at our disposal is not too stocked does not help too much. In relation to its sound effects, they fulfill their task quite satisfactorily. And it is that the few voices that we hear during the adventure, the sound of the weapons or the explosions themselves have a metallic aftertaste very much in line with the rest of the adventure. The texts arrive in almost perfect Spanish (we have the occasional minor translation error).
This guy … he does know!
RUINER – A shooter of the most viSceral
RUINER dresses in gore, violence and a marked cyberpunk cut to offer us an old school shooter that, without standing out for its duration or replayability, tries to win in depth with various and interesting additions such as the karma system, visits to the metropolis or the Arena, but it stays halfway in all of them. However, and despite all the buts, we are facing a remarkable proposal for all lovers of the shooter genre in general and of action, free violence and cyberpunk aesthetics in particular. In short, a video game with its own personality, perfect for downloading adrenaline!
We have analyzed RUINER thanks to a digital code provided by Devolver Digital. Version analyzed: 1.1S15773077ab
A festival of action, violence and cyberpunk
RUINER is a top-down shooter whose proposal successfully, although not without limitations, bets on violence, cyberpunk aesthetics and action as a workhorse.
His simple, direct and brutal proposal is perfect to release adrenaline
A remarkable artistic section with a marked cyberpunk cut
Your skill tree and the successful karma system
It seems short and it does not bet, nor a trace of multiplayer, for replayability
Sometimes inaccuracy makes us miss keyboard and mouse
All the additions that are intended to provide depth stay halfway