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Game Review #530: Ruiner (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Akio Kahoshi

Developer: Reikon Games

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Category: Adventure, Action, Strategy

Release Date: 06.18.2020

Price: $19.99

Watch the Trailer

Buy Ruiner from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Immediately upon starting Ruiner, I was taken to a world that is quintessentially Cyberpunk. Everything about the game oozes Cyberpunk style, from the art to the music. There is a neo-Hong Kong, brain hackers, megacorporations that own everyone, and all the other things that make the genre what it is. Of course, representing its genre is only part of what makes this a good game. Ruiner does not fail in everything else it attempts either, instead proving to be a highly competent twin-stick shooter. All of this is propped up by impressive graphics and a properly dystopian story.

Knocking Heads

Despite being a twin-stick shooter, I actually did not realize it was in the first few minutes of the game. Instead of a gun, it actually starts the player out with only a melee weapon and teaches the basics of movement and dashing. This was actually a smart move on Reikon Games’ part as it kept the melee weapons in my mind during combat helping to secure victory where relying on guns only would have led to death.

The stars of the game are, naturally, the guns. I was impressed with the variety of weapons, ranging from handguns to rail canons. Each felt distinct, with different strengths and weaknesses. I rarely felt like there was a lack of weapons either, as enemies and a helpful drone would drop them regularly.

The combat itself is chaotic, but not overwhelming. Dashing around, spraying bullets, and slashing enemies with swords or other weapons felt almost like an intricate dance. Just one full of lead and blood. Ruiner even has execution moves, that not only give extra experience (or Karma) but if timed well can be used to avoid enemy attacks.

Cycle of Death

In addition to weapons, the player has numerous skills that drain energy to assist in battle. Directional shields, grenades, self-healing, and more all act to give the player an advantage during combat. They are obtained by spending skill points, which can be freely assigned and unassigned to let the player adapt to battles on the fly.

Each of the game’s levels are broken up into separate graded fights. Between the fights, the game offers exploration, as well as weapons, chests of karma, and healing spots to ready for the next battle. At no time did I feel like the game was unfairly throwing me into a battle underprepared.

Despite everything given to aid me, I still died plenty. This game expects that though, and quickly threw me back into combat to try again. Rarely did I die more than once or twice on any one fight. The exception being one of the game’s mini-bosses near the end of the game where it took twenty-one deaths to finally get past. That was more me failing to adapt to the boss’s unique weapon than the game itself though.

Beautiful Darkness

Beyond the basic gameplay is the stunning world Reikon Games developed. While beautifully rendered, it is hard to call the brutal and dark world of Ruiner beautiful. I was actually impressed by just how good the game looked at times, though from my Switch’s fan I could tell it was using the system’s resources to their max. Playing handheld reduced this, without noticeably dropping the quality.

More important than the cut scenes are the moment to moment gameplay visuals, and while not as sharply rendered they still looked fantastic during play. I did encounter lag on certain loading screens, but this never bled into the combat during my time.

All of this helps to support a narrative that was thoroughly enjoyable. The entire time the game gives detail about the character’s motivation, but also everything in the world feels just a little bit off. As if there is a second story happening just outside of the player’s view.

The fact that the player character is made out to be irredeemable from the start also helps set up the events of the story, along with the mysterious Her who spends the game assisting you from afar. Perhaps the only place the game falls short is in the limited voice acting. Some key story elements fall slightly flat due to being text only, but even so, the overall experience remains exceptional.

Cyberpunk Goodness

Devolver Digital seems to have a talent for finding indie studios with loads of talent, and Reikon Games is no exception to this. Ruiner truly is a spectacular game that fans of Cyberpunk, shooters, or good games in general, should definitely experience. An interesting story, top-level graphics, and well-executed combat make for a truly solid title.

Score: 9/10

Buy Ruiner from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*A game code as provided for review purposes.

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