Written by Derrick Smith
Offering a unique take on a futuristic dystopia, developer Reikon Games has set their creative ambitions on RUINER, a brutal cyberpunk action adventure that has quickly become one of our favorite indie games of the year.
Set in the year 2091 within the cyber metropolis of Rengkok City, Rengkok South is where you spend most of your stay. Considered the bottom of the bottom, according to a local mechanic who comes to your aid soon enough, RUINER places you in the more than capable boots of a nameless mask wearing wired psychopath who lashes out against a corrupt corporate system known as Heaven. While your sole purpose of saving your brother from this monolithic corporation hangs in the balance, players are introduced to a secretive hacker allie only known as Her, who offers informative insight into your brothers whereabouts and more.
At the heart of this stylish top-down reality sits Heaven, which basically owns the Rengkok region. Among their numerous sub-companies and limitless influential ties, Heaven’s main product is Virtuality offering real sensations in the virtual world. Unfortunately you eventually have to wake up.
RUINER is a visionary tale comprised of a stylish glimpse into the future, maintained by an aggressive reality where punishing your foes is a constant joyride to the heart of Heaven. With a few errands like quests updated to your list of objectives while perusing Rengkok South, our no-named masked hero again with the constant aid of Her, sets his sights on uncovering as much as he can about his brothers whereabouts, including new insights into the slums Rengkok South.
On the surface Rengkok South is your typical cyberpunk den of miscreants, who are trying to make the best of their reality by straddling the rules and acquiring as much Karma as human or robotically possible. In the world of RUINER Karma is the main currency and without it your existence is deleted rather quickly, unless you are well vested in the numerous gangs, which plague the underworld.
Walking around Rengkok South players are constantly revealed dialogue from NPC’s which offer a brief optic into their lives, adding a layer of humanity and soul to the experience. On occasions interactions with Rengkok South’s finest can lead down some interesting rabbit holes of discovery. However, don’t expect too much from these off the beating path directions. Though impressively added for good measure, alongside an amazing soundtrack scored by Khoven, DJ Alina, and famed anime composer Susumu Hirasawa, atop a unique and well told original narrative, RUINER encourages players to embrace and combine preternatural reflexes, augmented tools and the vast arsenal of fallen foes to tear down and dismantle the corporate titans of virtuality dealers at Heaven.
RUINER is all about properly managing and replenishing your valuable health and kinetic energy, while refining your kill skills, gaining skill points in an effort to broaden your abilities which requires skills points for purchasing. With a total of (13) abilities our hero progressively becomes a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. While there are multiple abilities, developer Reikon has situated the ergonomics comfortably, limiting the use of each ability strategically to specific buttons. Conveniently, players can retrieve the most useful abilities on the fly for varied combative scenarios.
The most commonly used abilities were the Dash, Energy Shield and Power Attack, however as the narrative unfolds drawing you closer to your mysterious brother, the combat becomes a brutal affair of trial by fire, (the game becomes increasingly more challenging) requiring you to pull out all stops in order to survive. Earlier on I was able to have my way with the colorful enemy types by only using but a few of my abilities, yet later on I was compelled to activate abilities like Overload, the Kinetic Barrier, Ghost Break, the Shock and Grenade Launcher, with the Relex Booster as a helpful constant in order to get me out of those too close for comfort confrontations.
Impressively, you are greeted with some old school boss battles scenarios boosting your confidence with each successful encounter. Progressing through the story players are met by barriers which need to be hacked in order to pass through. Hacking these barriers are simple requiring players to accurately tap the correct sequence of buttons for passage. This hacking behavior is also necessary for acquiring newer weapons which are locked up in vaults throughout the levels.
After defeating a boss or an areas mini-boss the handy weapon grinder makes an appearance, grinding all of the areas weapons into some much needed Karma that is eventually launched out of the grinder and added to your Karma level. Also, very similar to completing a level in games like DMC Devil May Cry, RUINER does a level evaluation of your kills, deaths and total points ultimately giving players a letter grade of how well they performed, just before moving the story forward.
Players are never without an assortment of weapon options and now on my second playthrough, unfortunately I erased all of my previously obtained content, to which I would have like to have listed the majority of the games vast arsenal. But taking an overview tab at the weapons list, players will be met by an array of hand guns, pistols and assault rifles to powerful shotguns, heavy gatling gun and flamethrowers to even more powerful energy weapons.
Even on my second playthrough the game is a pure joyride even on the harder difficulty, which has been super rewarding if not painfully brutal. Based on how progressive the gameplay is presented I should note that RUINER begs for any form of character customization. The option to earn cool new threads and new masks would have been a well-received addition.
Visually RUINER is a super stylish eye-pleaser, reminiscent of Metal Gear with its cold metal inspired level designs, perfectly adding to the games reality of despair and corruption. The impressive lighting, detailed character models and environments are stellar in their presentation. Complimenting the visuals are the games cut-scene cinematics and cut-scene artistic character dialogue stills, which only enhance the experience.
Oozing with a myriad of stylish quality, RUINER is easily one of the best indie game of 2017. With so many upgrades to be added to your list of awesome abilities, a single playthrough is truly not enough as I am certain most will be compelled to tackle this rich experience for a second time. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how magical the games soundtrack adds a pulsating heart beat to the affair.
RUINER is must play experience with great quality across the board!