Heroes of Ruin Review
Game: Heroes of Ruin
Publisher: Square Enix
Available On: Nintendo 3DS Only
As the final monster in its lair crumples into a heap on the mouldy dungeon floor, the spoils that the pocket-less monster was inexplicably carrying upon its person are now the adventurer’s. Normally, such a feeling of accomplishment, with all the loot, was traditionally confined to just PC gamers. Now, with Heroes of Ruin, you can enjoy that dungeon-crawling thrill on your 3DS (or maybe your new 3DS XL).
Developed by n-Space and published by Square Enix, could Heroes of Ruin be the hero that handheld owning adventurers want, with an enjoyable loot-grabbing experience available on the go, or alternatively does it ruin the idea of any portable action-RPG ever being great?
STORY: In rather typical fashion, Heroes of Ruin follows the exploits of a group of mercenaries searching for a great pay day. Battling Leviathans and Elven Ghost Kings across a range of environments, from deep caves underneath the vast oceans to large clearings in the middle of forests. Your group must find the cure for one of the Ruin gods, Ataraxis, who has fallen victim to a deadly curse in the city he built, Nexus. Arriving by ship, you set off on your quest to heal the deity, whilst all the while searching for treasure and gold.
Although not a particularly enthralling story, this Tolkien-esque tale has all the hallmarks of fantasy worlds that it requires in order to weave together the excellent dungeon-like zones that make up the majority of your time in Heroes of Ruin.
GRAPHICS: The minor failings of Heroes of Ruin continue with the presentation. As has depressingly become a regular occurrence, the 3D effect is uninspiring and, in some places quite painful to use. Once you turn it off, you get lacklustre graphics that do the job, but they’re nothing to write home about. The rather dull aesthetic continues in the cut-scenes, with the game never looking any better than simply average, even for the 3DS.
SOUND: Similarly disappointing, the soundtrack consists of a cacophony of tinny orchestral tunes, that are as insipid as they are grating. There is some occasional voice acting, but the monotony, partly due to the compression of the audio required for a 3DS title and partly due to simple poor voice-overs, makes them unmemorable.
GAMEPLAY: A 4-player co-op dungeon-crawling action RPG, not only is Heroes of Ruin a bit of a mouthful when you break it down via distinct genres, but it’s also a ridiculous amount of fun. With a selection of classes to choose from including Vindicator(DPS), Gunslinger (a ranged DPS character), Alchitect (a mage) and Savage (tank), all of which are instantly familiar classes to RPG veterans, albeit with a slight tweak.
Borrowing the colour-coded rarity system that you’ve seen in everything from Diablo to Borderlands, there’s a great emphasis on levelling up and acquiring the best ‘loot’ for your character. Earning XP and levelling up your character, increasing their Might, Vigor and Soul in order to boost their strength, health and energy respectively, is only half of the battle to get an excellent marauder. With the various pieces of armour and weaponry level-linked, as well as differing in rarity, it’s important to make sure you select the right loot to pick up and use, as your inventory can often fill up incredibly quickly if you collect any old loot to sell at hubs like Nexus.
The largest city of The Veil, and the place where Ataraxis lay critically ill, Nexus forms the spiders web for all the various dungeon-like areas you will spend the majority of the game exploring, its main use is as a hub area where most of the merchants are based, and where you’ll return to between quests in order to open up other areas. It’s fairly simple stuff, but there is a degree of monotony when exploring Nexus, as there is rarely anything new other than a few new NPCs with a variety of fetch quests.
MULTIPLAYER: Drop in, drop out co-op on a worldwide scale, the likes of which Nintendo consoles (and handheld consoles in general) have never managed to do. With your story and characters crossing over to somebody else’s, it really is a joy to play. That’s provided you can find someone to play it with, as sometimes, particularly in the earlier dungeons, there are seemingly no people available to loot and pillage with. Once you find them, however, Heroes of Ruin really comes into its own.
The online/ad-hoc interactivity in Heroes of Ruin does not stop there, however. Utilizing Spotpass and Streetpass, the game manages to create an almost PC game amount of user interaction. With Spotpass enabled, daily challenges for you to complete are delivered to your 3DS, and will be for at least a year after release. If you prefer to be out and about with your fellow gamers, then via Streetpass you can access the Trader’s Network, where you can peddle those rare items to spend the points you earn on items you haven’t encountered in your game. This allows you to get the extra edge, and the feature is available to all players from the start; so start peddling early.
LONGEVITY: If you simply wish to play Heroes of Ruin as a solo adventuring experience, you’ll get plenty of gameplay, with the daily challenges and single-player dungeons providing a fair old chunk of game time for you to battle through. If you choose to activate the multiplayer, whilst there won’t be anything added in terms of particular modes, there will be a lot more incentive to replay the game if you want to quest with a friend, or go loot hunting with a complete stranger.
VERDICT: Although it’s a brilliant single-player experience, the real strong point of Heroes of Ruin is the multiplayer experience it provides. With a fairly lacklustre story and average presentation values, it says a lot about the enjoyable aspect of the dungeon crawling, either alone or in a group, that Heroes of Ruin is a game for the 3DS that not only utilizes the online functionalities in the right way (for possibly the first time), but also markets itself as an enjoyable and accessible action-RPG. If you’re the slightest bit interested in slashing monsters and collecting loot, then Heroes of Ruin should be top of your list of handheld games to buy.