Ruiner Hands-On Preview – Brutally Satisfying

A proper twin-stick shooter.

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When I got a hands-on opportunity with Ruiner at last year’s PAX East 2016 event, it was evident that the game was a bit unpolished. While the game didn’t wow at first play through, there was tons of promise there. Fortunately, Reikon Games came back to PAX East 2017 with an updated version of Ruiner, and it might have been one one of the best games on the entire show floor.

Coming to us via publisher Devolver Digital (who has amassed an impressive slate of interesting games lately) is a game that gives off Hotline Miami vibes, but is most definitely all on its own once you sit down with it. Ruiner is an ultraviolet (in a good way) top-down action game, and from the brief demo I’ve played, is something everyone should keep an eye out for. The basic gist of the demo put us in the shoes of a man wearing a LED mask that’s been hacked into. As part of the hacking, we had one objective: kill the boss. What followed was a chaotic, incredibly enjoyable fight for survival against a variety of enemies and weapons.

Most of the demo involved handing the player the tools they would utilize when playing the full game. This ranged from a wide array of gadgets and abilities (like dashing or throwing up a shield) to various weapons that all deal out different damage. The dash system is especially interesting as it allows players to chain together dashes and, in conjunction with the shield, can be used in an extremely strategic way when trying to get rid of enemies. Little details like this allow Ruiner to strike a balance between games like Hotline Miami while also giving the player time to relax and think through an ongoing fight, and if my time with the game was any indication, you’ll need to catch your breath often.

While I enjoy games that throw players for a challenge, I’m afraid to say that I’m not always the best. With my time at Ruiner, I died a lot more than I’d care to admit, although we can chalk this up to my own careless greed while playing and the fact that the demo was presented on a mouse and keyboard. For players not interested in the tough task of beating the game, Ruiner will include a “tourist mode” if you just want to experience the story but not so much the gameplay. While the tutorial of the game presented me with a bit of a hard time, I’d definitely recommend at least trying your hand at it before succumbing to any tourist mode.

Packed nicely into the action game is a surprisingly well crafted and well-designed world. After the boss fight in the demo (which is done extremely well, as the player must defeat enemies in order to keep a timer going before he dies) you’re taken to the cyberpunk-inspired city of Rengkok. There, you can roam about and start to uncover the true story of the game, and while I only had a couple of minutes to make my way through the town, it’s clear that there was a ton to see and do when the game does fully come out.

After the initial success of Hotline Miami, countless games have released that tried to capture that certain magic that Hotline did, with most not being able to in the slightest. Ruiner is a game that doesn’t try to be like Hotline Miami and yet still gives you that same sense of excitement while playing and manages to offer a lot more in the way of story, exploration, and gameplay. When Ruiner drops later this year, it seems destined to carve its own path into the isometric action game genre, and it’ll do so with style.

Ruiner launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this summer. Are any of you planning on checking out the game? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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