PAX East Preview: Ruiner

Ruiner is an adrenaline-fueled nod to anime-laced cyberpunk, with a combat system that teeters on the edge of challenging meets masochism. And while my wrists didn’t thank me for the wild click-fest, I couldn’t get enough.

Cyberpunk is a beloved genre of mine. My roots stretch way back to Neuromancer, Idoru, and Shadowrun, after all. To tether Ruiner with traditional cyberpunk, however, diminishes its willingness to break the rules and try something different. True, it has that gritty environmental glitz that we’ve come to expect, but instead of relying on back alley dealings and a Mr. Johnson to set you up on jobs, Ruiner sets loose a sociopathic tech-samurai and says, “Have at ‘er.”

Set in the bombastic fictional Southeast Asian city of Rengkok, Ruiner will subversively explore societal issues that often crop up in cyberpunk-flavoured stories, including classism, government overreach, and the disenfranchisement of the population.The gang that I encountered in the first scenario, according to the game’s lead writer, is rumoured to be made up of the discarded third children in the city. They’re augmented, bloodthirsty, and angry. Oh, and they kidnapped the sociopathic tech-samurai’s brother.

Not good for them.

Ruiner is meant to be a game that forces you to learn mechanics quickly and challenges you to master them as early as possible. Though the tutorial is an adequate introduction to the click-riot of combat, one encounter with a group of enemies will press you harder than you anticipate. Using Ruiner’s precision-heavy combat mechanics, dashing in and out of cover to slice ‘n dice enemies is both challenging and immensely rewarding when that combo finally lands.

The guns are dropped with very little ammo and no way to reload, so holding onto an arsenal of weaponry isn’t an option. Your energy recharges when you kill enemies or when you find a recharge pad. Let your energy levels drop below the threshold and you’ll find yourself at the mercy of your enemies without a shield or the ability to dash back to cover.

Although Ruiner’s combat is deliberately challenging, the developers don’t want gamers to miss out on the intricate lore or lush environments throughout the game. Ruiner will allow players to play through the game on a dialed down setting that they’ve referred to as Traveler Mode. If your threshold for in-game death is low, while your curiosity is sky-high, Traveler Mode will enable you to move through the game and experience Rengkok without breaking your fingers.

Ruiner’s little details, combat system, and even bits of its environmental flavour remind me of Supergiant’s Transistor. The fluidity, grace, and exacting elegance in Ruiner’s control structure, even the way that our sociopathic tech-samurai moves about the isometric landscape, all reminded me of the way Red interacted with her world.

The cyberpunk meets anime aesthetic isn’t complete without a killer soundtrack. Ruiner’s in-game music features Khoven, DJ Alina, and famed anime composer Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika, Millennium Actress).

Ruiner is not a gentle game, nor is it meant to be. It’s a brutal world, limned with the chaotic haze of Rengkok’s troubled streets, and the game’s mechanics reinforce that reality. I can’t wait to get back into Ruiner’s world to peel back the layers of the story and unlock the secrets the city holds.

(Original Source: The Daily Crate)

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