Ruiner is one of the year’s most erratic games. Between the atmosphere, fantastic scenery, and amazing music, there is a production that mocks the player at every turn, without even attempting to push them to battle the often insane degree of difficulty.
The first steps in the fictitious Chinese city of Rengkok elicit very favorable emotions. The unnamed hero, whose face is covered behind a mask with a screen showing different messages, is living one of the most terrifying nightmares imagined by cyberpunk screenwriters and writers: someone has seized control of him and is using his body to murder the leader of a huge firm. A female hacker known only as “She” joins the scene midway through the first introductory level. He saves us from danger and sends us on a quest that includes both vengeance and the rescue of our abducted sibling. We arrive in one of the city’s poorest areas, populated by all kind of slime, complete a few minor side quests, and within a few minutes we’re back in dark tunnels full of adversaries to beat or shoot. Ruiner is an action game with a well-adjusted difficulty level – even on normal, you’ll die at least a few times, and high hard may be excruciating. We will beat, shoot, and fast sprint from place to place as a person in a mask, slaying huge hordes of adversaries in the process. The fighting system’s fundamentals are fairly great, at least at initially.
As we continue, the hero gains additional abilities, the most basic of which augment our weapons, provide shields, or enhance the fundamental maneuver – a lightning-fast run from one location to another. The most advanced ones will let you to shock adversaries, convert trick energy into healing, or even hack groups of assailants to entice one or more thugs to your side. The game aims to be adaptable, enabling us to spend points without fear of making mistakes – at any time, we may trade one talent for another to adjust strategies to unique obstacles. In addition, we get a big armory of guns, pistols, and ice cannons to play with anyway we wish. They range from basic weapons that spew lead in a certain direction to energy beams that hop between foes and electric shots that bounce off walls. The masked vigilante’s gear seemed to have a response for everything. The issue is that there isn’t much to plan for. After the first, more tough monster, who burns the hero’s shields and drives him into a corner, the authors provide a slew of nearly identical adversaries that can be easily beaten with stun grenades – regardless of the weapon we choose to fire them. Furthermore, it becomes tedious when it is revealed that killing the large Cyborg amounts to diminishing his life bar three times.
The situation is no better with rank-and-file thugs; despite tiny differences in look and durability, once we figure out who strikes, shoots, and explodes, they are all killed in the same way. Invisibility, quick running, and teleporting are all options for some opponents. It was impossible to observe any patterns in their behavior and then apply them to do better throughout seven hours of play – fighting is a chaotic, reflex-demanding affair in which we don’t always see what’s killing us. The controls are one of the game’s major flaws. Although we can control the hero with the keyboard and mouse, we cannot adjust the settings. This is a major issue when the right button has sprint and its tactical form, which slows time and needs confirmation of the instruction with the second button – Ruiner has difficulty differentiating between these two commands, making fleeing from one of the few unique monsters a hassle. The hacker who launched us on the path of vengeance is also uninspiring. He treats us with condescension during talks in which we may pick between two conversational alternatives that do not affect anything. He starts mocking us when we die in the same location. Such a negative ally is more annoying than encouraging to battle again. The monotony of the conflicts causes us to take a look around. We witness the identical passageways, filled of the same containers and décor, between repeated “death rooms.” The light or viewing angle may shift from time to time, but that is the extent of the variation. We will witness four distinct sorts of bosses and three different types of locales throughout the course of eight hours.
This is quite unfortunate, given how much work went into establishing a genuinely distinctive design. Southern Rengkok, which serves as a base and a location to play a few trifling mini-games, appears to have a lot of atmosphere, with a mad mechanic, masochistic prostitutes, and robot cats spying on everyone. The lighting is also excellent, allowing the creators to cleverly conceal some of the secrets – for example, we don’t always have to look around to find a hidden box or special coins, because the combination of red lighting and shadows causes us to pass by some of the collectibles unconsciously. This is not a complaint; in a sense, it’s comforting to understand that we missed the gem evident on the screen because we were distracted.
Ruiner’s main issue appears to be that the game appears to be unnaturally extended, both in terms of level design and the substance that fills them. The narrative is uninteresting, and the gameplay stops being enjoyable halfway through the journey; we don’t even consider attempting it again.