There are plenty of roguelikes to play, and Lone Ruin deserves to be among the other great games in the genre. Lone Ruin isn’t a story-driven narrative; instead, it’s an arcade-style title. And because of this approach, the end of each run doesn’t feel so gut-wrenching. Still, its beautiful pixelated graphics and catchy music add to the overall experience and make Lone Ruin a fun yet challenging game to add to your collection.
The first aspect that caught my attention is how beautiful it looks. The artwork is reminiscent of the SNES era. But instead of the bright colors typically associated with those games, its use of dark blues and reds gives off a dark and foreboding feeling. There isn’t much of a story, if any, to start you off on your adventure. You play a wizard-looking character who descends into this shadowing world.
You start by choosing your weapon from a creepy-looking creature who warns you it’s dangerous to go ‘lone. The arsenal ranges from boomerangs, and chain-lightning, to even a sword. This allows you to lean into your style of play. I prefer the boomerang or the chain-lightning weapons, but exploring the different options makes the game feel fresh.
Lone Ruin is a twin-stick shooter; one stick aims your attack, and the other moves you around the level. Each level has a certain number of waves of enemies you’ll need to defeat before you can move on to the next room. There’s an interesting risk/reward system in the game. Each door has symbols associated with them, indicating the power-ups or additional weapons that drop after defeating the waves in that level. Of course, the more items available also means you’ll need to clear out more waves of enemies.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t explain what the different symbols mean when you first come across them. You’ll need to complete a few runs before you get a full sense of what the pictures represent. As you progress, you’ll find additional weapons you can equip, either through drops in the level or from purchasing them in a shop. The symbols are random, and on more than one occasion, a shop appeared at the beginning of my run. Unfortunately, I wasn’t close to having enough money to purchase any items; money drops from killing enemies and clearing only one room certainly doesn’t provide enough money for items in the shop. However, these are minor complaints, as the runs go by quickly, and this didn’t ruin my overall experience.
The game is challenging, and the enemies become more difficult as you continue through the levels. Not only do they take more damage, but they also shoot more projectiles, creating a bullet hell. You can dash, but when bullets are flying, things get a bit hectic.
The boss battles are the most difficult; prepare to die a lot. It’ll take a few times facing them before you pick up on their patterns and learn how to defeat them. Even though they are pretty tough, the boss battles were my favorite part of the game because of how different they looked and felt compared to the standard enemies you fight.
What I enjoy most about Lone Ruin is the arcade aspect. Story-driven roguelikes are fine, but I get frustrated when I’m not progressing in the story. Instead, Lone Ruin incorporates a leaderboard where you can see how you compete with others. This feature made death a bit easier to stomach, seeing that others had scores similar to mine.
Final Grade: B+
Lone Ruin does a wonderful job changing up the roguelike formula. It’s a challenging yet rewarding game, and incorporating leaderboards adds a different element, making Lone Ruin feel more like an arcade shooter than a roguelike. I love the aesthetics; the deep, dark rich colors give off an eerie feeling. And the music is fantastic, adding to the arcade feel. Death doesn’t feel so bad after knowing how your score compares to others on the leaderboard. And, of course, after seeing the top score, you tell yourself, “just one more run.”
Lone Ruin is available on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Add it to your wishlist: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1452070/LONE_RUIN/
Review code provided by publisher