Heroes of Ruin is an isometric action RPG from developers n-space and published by Square Enix for the 3DS. It can be played entirely in singleplayer but there is a heavy leaning towards multiplayer; which can be done in both local and online forms.
Heroes of Ruin takes place around the city of Nexus, a safe haven in the world built by the Ruinlord Ataraxis. Ataraxis is a mighty Sphinx who along with the other Ruinlords brought peace to a divided land, they all now rule over their individual cities. The mighty Sphinx has fallen under a powerful curse and is in a coma-like state. Because of this heroes far and wide are flocking to save the ruler and gain vast sums of wealth for providing a cure.
You take the role of one of four mercenaries, who are shipwrecked on your way to nexus. You as the most able bodied must fight your way through the nearby caverns to help the survivors reach Nexus. Once you’ve brought the survivors back safely you find that two of the survivors were princes of Nexus and you are now their go to hero for all their troubles.
To start out you are given the choice of one of four different characters: the Vindicator, Gunslinger, Savage and Alchitect. The Vindicator is your go to guy as a tanky damage dealer; he is a lion-man who wields a sword and his skills are about getting him into the fray and taking the aggro from the enemies. The Gunslinger is the archetypical rouge/archer character that wields dual pistols and works at doing damage from afar with both his guns and the numerous toys at his disposal; which include explosives and other gadgets to control the enemies. The Savage is the bestial barbarian who is more prone to damage than the Vindicator but can deal it out better. Lastly the Alchitect is a sort of spell sword that uses her magi as well as sweeping polearm attacks. She has the support and area of affect abilities that the others have less of.
Levelling up gives you the chance to distribute points into your three attributes and select a single ability upgrade. Each character has three ability trees and each skill can only be purchased once you reach a certain level. This is also true of upgrades for abilities which differ in what each upgrade does. Abilities come in three flavours: Powers, Buffs and Passives. Passives are active all the time, Buffs confer enhancements for a brief time and Powers are attacks and control abilities.
There are a few different areas that you get to explore and each comes with its own quests and stories, all leading up to a boss in the final stage of an area. Each level is also randomised but you will find many similarities so it doesn’t make a huge impact on the earlier levels much. Within the levels you’ll find plenty of enemies that spawn regularly in random locations, so you will be able to grind loot and XP should you want/need to. There are also hidden areas that, once you know what you’re looking for are easy to spot. They always appear at a dead-end and its worth just attacking it just in case; since the loot you find there tends to be of the higher quality and there is always a large quantity of gold.
Loot is however split into different groups and then again for a second time for each of the classes; some are classless but only belts, rings and accessories. Loot is always random, unless it is a specific vendor or quest item and you will normally find something on every 5th enemy or so. Early on its not quite that frequent but later on you can probably do without carrying the extra baggage as your inventory will fill quickly. Loot also has the chance of having an enchantment that has benefits that outweigh mere stats; it can be anything from slowing an enemy on a hit to returning a portion of the damage dealt to you. There is a quick sell option in your inventory which will give you a fraction of the items value but as there is no conformation on the action you can accidentally lose some of your items. Vendors however will sell you back items if you go to buy after accidentally selling something.
The Traders Network is a SteetPass feature that you can use to sell items to other players. The basic principle is that you can sell items here and earn points to buy items that are normally unobtainable or that an obtainable later on in the game. As you are normally up to your eyeballs in loot and items range from good stats to worse stats but bearing useful enchantments, I found that it didn’t really appeal too much to me.
Quests vary in your standard objectives and a few do come away with little puzzles rather than being fetch or kill quests which is nice. However you can round up most of the quests for an area in one go, eliminating the need to return to a level on most occasions. There are very few levels that you return to in order to complete a quest you unlocked before going there the first time. There is a unique quest type called Web Challenges that offer unique rewards and change both daily and weekly. By connecting online with the game you will receive updates on what your current challenges are. The rewards are Xp and points which can be traded in for some quite impressive pieces of loot from a special vendor in the city.
Combat is very active for most of the game but you can get ahead of the enemies in terms of equipment and levels leaving them less than effective against you. There are still some enemies that can cause you problems but they tend to be immune to stun and block frequently. This does only really occur in the later levels where you can be levels higher than the enemies due to them not scaling to you. That having been said the combat is fun when the enemies don’t block your attacks. To break attack you have to charge an attack; this is both slow, has little range and leaves you vulnerable while charging. Blocking is also the same button as evade; so blocking on the move is quite difficult.
Bosses and some of the larger enemies do have some cool mechanics in play and many of them focus on you being able to damage them with everything you have but only slightly. To truly hurt them you will need to use more cunning approaches and hit their weak spots which usually aren’t open for long.
Multiplayer is what the game tries to impose on you and rightly so, having a team of adventurers to complement each other is a lot of fun but there are a few problems. There isn’t any scaling for either the players themselves or the number of players; this means that it is very much an easier game with more people, it also means that players that are higher or lower in level than you remain that way. Having lower level players mainly hurts them but higher level players can just destroy anything in their path; you can (assuming that you are host) kick them or use the more than reasonable, voice chat to ask them to leave nicely.
Loot is an every man for himself affair (in multiplayer) with loot being grabbed as soon as it’s dropped and chests being raided immediately for all the good items. It isn’t easy to distribute with people that lack morals but with the well-mannered you can initiate trades if need be at the touch of a button.
Graphically the game is quite impressive and surprisingly it looks very slick in 3D as well, being on the verge of looking better overall. You’ll see some interesting locations but you will begin to see the same tiles over and over again as you go through the themed stages but it doesn’t really impede on the gameplay or your enjoyment.
While the story (and game) are mainly a setup for a much larger sequel (hopefully), it does have some rather good cutscenes, made all the better due to the voice acting. Quests all have stories behind them and they are normally interesting, some lead on to others later down the line as well.
Presentation and Audio
One of the few games which looks better in 3D and has some good designs in there too. Voice acting was a real surprise as it was used reasonably well to hit some plot developments home and the quality was pretty good as well. The multiplayer voice chat is actually very good quality and quite clear so long as the background noise is at an acceptable level.
The game is fun to play regardless of the class you pick but once you’ve found the class you like the most, then you can start getting the most from the game. Blocking and guardbreaking are a little clunky and abilities don’t flow well in combos but the core combat is fun. Multiplayer works well despite people’s tendency to loot everything in sight and the connectivity and gameplay works well with multiple players in mind.
The game feels a little flat towards the end as you can see the end encroaching and you’ve already outleveled many of the creatures you’re facing; taking them out in 2-4 hits. Aside from that the game is fun and inviting, letting you enjoy it either with friends and strangers or completely solo. Leveling gives you a fair amount of choice but once it is made you can’t undo ability point distributions; meaning you have to be careful the first time around.
I really enjoyed playing the game but once you get into the swing of things enemies don’t pose much of a challenge unless they block or steal health. Critical hits seemed to be the major problem with this as they would heal me and deal a lot of damage; some of the gear I had later boosted this to heal over half my max health on a hit. The game really pushes the sequel angle and hopefully the problems with this can be addressed in that but the lack of endgame in this one is frustrating.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.