The lights are on
It's time once again for another review/blog/yammering about another game coming to the 3DS line up... I really must put more effort into writing about console titles... Anyway, this time we have Heroes of Ruin from Square Enix and nSpace. This game is one of very few RPGs on the 3DS right now, and although I really liked Tales of the Abyss, I picked it up far too long after it's release to warrant a review, so here I am. I've already spoken my peace in the past about how the 3DS finally seems to be gaining stable ground, but does "Heroes" bring anything worthwhile to the party?
First of all, some clarification is in order for those of you who don't know much about the game, as it seems many people I've spoken to don't seem to know much about it, including the very fact that it exists. Heroes of Ruin is a new Action/RPG game developed by nSpace and produced by Square. The game exists of four playable classes, including two melee fighters and two "ranged" fighters, with the player's objective to revive the fallen Ruinlord of Nexus in order for a reward. The game has been receiving most of what little buzz it's gotten because of its highly promoted online functionality, allowing for "jump in- jump out" four player online game play. So those are the basics, but what lies beneath the surface you ask... or I just heard in my delusional imagination?
To find out, lets dive into the meat (or vegetarian alternative) of the main course, game play. This game has been called the mini Diablo by several other reviews I've read, but to be honest, I'm not horribly familiar with the series, other than the notion that it's on PC, which for me doesn't work. I personally get a feeling from it that reminds me a bit of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and a bit of a more recent title, Kingdoms of Amalur. With the "B" button as your primary melee attack, your three other face buttons become special abilities of your choosing, which can be mapped anytime by simply tapping them on the touch screen. Aside from that, we have movement using the circle pad with a camera on an almost top-down view, interactions button with "L," block/roll/ teleport /make toast with "R," and potion using, quick equip, and quick sell using the directional pad. For those who haven't played KOA, that's almost exactly the same button set up, but how does it feel? How does it work?! Actually, the answer is "quite well." The game feels pretty solidly built in this regard, with battles becoming fast-paced and fun, though I've had a rolling vs. blocking issue while in heated combat, not always getting the action I wanted. Missions come by the dozens, and looting seems to be quite addictive as well however, with many variations to the weapons you find along the way.
One of my more notable complaints with game play however is the lack of variety between classes. Whether your the Vindicator (swordsman... swordslion... thing) or the Architect (Mage), you find you spend most of your time using a basic melee attack, while peppering your somewhat bland attacking with a few special moves from your own "spice rack" (special moves) every now and again. Though I do still enjoy game play with either character I've started (the same mentioned above), I can't help but feel as though this could have been touched on a bit more.
Now for more of the presentation and story aspect of the game, the "side dishes" for me in this game. Though I have read some reviews about the games visuals being lacking, and one review even going so far as to say the game looks like a DS original title, I have to say that this is a bit over the top. Visually, the game is not the most diverse or detailed game I've ever seen, including other 3DS titles, but the game does have it's own appeal. Small details in the background seem like very nice touches, including wet stone paths that glimmer and some architectural designs in Nexus, and character actions often feel very smooth. Though not as dramatic as I expected, the game even allows for dungeon and battle grounds to be slightly randomized, making different play-throughs feel a bit more fresh. Another interesting feature is the online tracking and daily challenges you get when linked to an online account. You can track stats, completed challenges, and trade codes with fellow heroes.
The story is really my only other noted complaint. The story seems generic and unfitting for a game of this type, and though I've not finished it yet, I already find myself forgetting the details almost immediately after I've gained them, something people complained about in KOA that I DIDN'T have a problem with. This, however, is why I chose to name this aspect of the game a "side dish," I really don't care about the story, never really did. As for the visuals, I knew it wasn't going to be among the highest mark because of the online implications. Most of us come to expect that when a game involves that much online details be it a MMO or in this case a fully functioning, anytime free to join brawl on a handheld, the graphics take a bit of a hit to help keep the game functional. The gameplay is the true "Hero" of this game, as it should be. I love dungeon crawlers, and the ability to now have one in my pocket for gaming where ever I am during the day honestly excites me and... makes me nervous about how I'm going to keep my job. X )
So the verdict? Honestly, the game isn't a "triple-A, knock-your-gauntlets-off thrill ride," but the solid game play and entertaining battles and mission quests make this one a recommendation in my book. Are you a 3DS owner and still not sure? Try the demo currently available in the eShop. Perhaps the best judge if a game is right for you should be, well, YOU after all. Though I have not indulged in the online aspect, I will be sure to update this review once I have. Until next time, I've got Architect and Gunslinger gear for the first person to give me a better sword for my Vindicator, and keep playing! ....I'm not kidding, I need a new bludgeoning sword right now! ... I also have trinkets~! ....Please?
Hey, just wanted to apologize for some typos I'm noticing in my review. I wrote this far too late in the evening. I'm trying to remember how to edit my review, but it's been a while. Thank you for your understanding.