The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Lootfests are a rarity in the handheld space. Even the ones that do make it into your palms are far removed from the likes of Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, or Torchlight. Heroes of Ruin attempts to offer that type of hack-and-slash RPG with an overhead camera, multiple classes to choose from, and lots and lots of loot to the 3DS with marginally successful results.
In a lootfest, loot is important. Despite its plentiful existence in Heroes of Ruins, it can be difficult to manage and not very rewarding to pick up. Comparing newly discovered armor to your currently equipped gear is time consuming, and once you figure out your optimal set-up, you learn that the new equipment does little to change your appearance.
Another problem with the loot is that 75 percent of it is useless. Sharing loot with friends is easy and profitable, but if you are playing by yourself you can’t do anything with the weapons and armor meant for other classes outside of selling it. By the end of the game I maxed out my wallet, which meant I couldn’t even sell anything anymore. Eventually I stopped collecting money and loot completely, only picking up recovery potions as I needed them. In a game where picking up intriguing new items dropped by enemies is one of the core elements, this is a major problem.
Combat is largely the same across the four different classes. You can choose from two melee-focused characters, a magic user, and a long-range fighter. The two melee classes don’t feel very different from one another, but the long-range Gunslinger (my personal favorite) and the magic user offer original experiences. Combat often devolves into standing next to an enemy and going back and forth between the standard attack and drinking health potions. Unlockable attacks can be mapped to the different face buttons, but your main attack will always be your strongest and most effective. During the occasional boss encounter, you are instructed to dodge and use the block button, but the controls aren’t responsive enough to let you pull off these maneuvers. It’s best to use the boring attack-potion-attack-potion combo.
Much of your time in Heroes of Ruin takes place in the hub city of Nexus. The city founder, the sphinx Ataraxis, has fallen into a cursed coma and you must attempt to wake the creature. This involves teaming up with Nexus’ assorted royalty and sorcerers to explore the neighboring wild lands and kill monsters who are carrying lots of weapons, money, and armor. Ruin’s story is full of backstabbings and antagonists who only reveal themselves at the end of the game. The narrative is one of the more interesting elements, but the characters telling the story are entirely forgettable. Some people are good, some are bad, and some are pretending to be good, and that’s as interesting as they get.
You can solve the mystery of the Sphinx by yourself, or you can team up with up to three other adventurers via online or local multiplayer. You can leave your single-player game open to online passersby to come and go as they please. This genre is perfect for playing with a few friends, and Heroes of Ruin makes it easy to join up with people near and far. The load times for starting online games are long, but once I started, I experienced very little lag.
The long load times carry over into the single-player experience. It’s most frustrating when all you need to do is enter an area to grab one thing to complete an objective. The long load times would be less concerning if the game was taking the time to load impressive visuals, but Heroes looks a generation behind with its muddy visuals.
Heroes of Ruin is a functional lootfest, but its poor economics balancing, uninteresting weapons, and boring combat don’t do it any favors. It’s like listening to a terrible band cover your favorite song. All the musicians are holding the right instruments, but it just doesn’t quite come together.
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