I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that RUINER was shaping up to be one heck of a ride. After spending the time since running, gunning, and murder, death, killing my way through this dark Cyberpunk action shooter, I not only stand by my original thoughts but am here to overstate the obvious. RUINER is the twin-stick shooter I didn’t know I needed. So grab that coffee, sit back and enjoy our RUINER review from the good folks over at Reikon Games.
Set in a dark cyberpunk future, RUINER finds you controlled by a corrupt corporate system who attempts to frame you for the murder of some pretty important people. Thanks to the quick work of a mystery hacker you are freed from the mind hack and set out on an adventure to uncover the truth behind all the mystery and save your brother. The story takes some interesting turns along the way even allowing you some limited control of how events play out. With its dark setting and themes, RUINER is a game that manages to find balance by adding just the right amount of off-color humor and satire. This gives the game the perfect avenue to ask some pretty heavy moral questions without taking itself too seriously.
Aside from the main mission which takes you on a quest across the cyber city of Rengkok through a series of dungeon-like settings, you will also be greeted to a sort of overworld with side quests and its own set of mysteries to unravel. The setting and world building work exceptionally well with this futuristic shooter offering a unique look at what a cyber ruled future could look like. The dark, gritty setting is offset by vibrant lighting effects creating a moody, almost sinister setting for the story to unfold.
Most of the story is delivered through a series of hand drawn stills with text bits and is coupled with the occasional CGI rendered cut-scene to add a little flavor to delivery. It works surprisingly well considering that the twin stick shooter genre is typically known more for its action that story delivery and it is appreciated that Reikon Games took the time to craft a surprisingly deep world for your to explore.
As great as the setting and storytelling are in RUINER, where this game really shines is its combat and progression systems. As a twin-stick shooter, I expected fast-paced action and I was not disappointed. Reikon’s attention to detail with its combat systems really shines as you move smoothly from enemy to enemy picking up and dropping weapons on the fly, using your custom picked set of unlockable abilities all while dodging enemy fire. What really stands out with all these systems is first the synergy between them but more impressive is the grace with which they so easily worth together. As I ran through each area engaging with waves of new enemies, I found that the controls and abilities all worked extremely well together allowing me to expertly dispatch enemies.
RUINER doesn’t stop with great combat, however, as the game also offers some fun hacking mechanics and as well as an interesting approach to ammo management. Hacking is handled with a series of button mashing combos that appear on the screen. It’s a simple system but does offer a quick reprieve mid-combat allowing the opportunity to catch your breath.
In regards to the ammo management you’ll find that instead of being able to reload weapons or pick up ammo, you instead have to constantly pick up weapons that enemies drop upon their death, forcing you to constantly be on the move. It really adds to the hectic feel of combat and forces you to always be moving, looking for the next opportunity to strike. You do get a base gun and melee weapon but without serious upgrades, these are little more than a reminder that you should have picked up a gun in the last room.
The ability tree offers some great variety for players allowing you to customize the play style to fit your liking. Karma is collected as you progress through the game, granting you ability points which in turn are used to unlock new abilities as well as upgrade existing ones. I found that there was a wide range of abilities to choose from allowing to lean more into offense or defense depending on your preferred playstyle. As you come by Karma pretty easily during gameplay, you’ll most likely find that you have enough points to play around with your build without feeling like you have wasted points.
RUINER is a great game. It’s polished, offers a unique world and some solid combat mechanics. Although it doesn’t necessarily revolutionize the twin-stick shooter, RUINER’S attention to story, graceful and synergistic combat and pacing set it apart from many of its brethren. Fan of the genre or not, RUINER is a game to keep on your radar.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.