Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
If you“re looking for a solid, portable dungeon-crawler, there aren“t exactly too many choices, which is a bit of a shame. If you“re anything like me, one of the perks in life is being able to slay giant spiders and enormous dragons while sitting on the toilet. So you“ll understand why I decided to pick up Heroes of Ruin for the Nintendo 3DS.
Heroes of Ruin is a fun little action RPG that relies heavily on the aspects of scouring dungeons and gathering loot – two things that made games like Diablo and Torchlight so much fun. And as a game within the same genre, Heroes of Ruin satisfies my hunger for a solid dungeon-crawler, but just barely...
From the get-go, Heroes of Ruin begins showing its ambitions. As you start a new game, you“ll jump straight into selecting your desired character class, whether it be the spell-casting Alchitect, the barbarous Savage, the heavily-armed Gunslinger, or the all-around Vindicator. Once you make that choice, you“ll be given another to make – what your character looks like. Sadly, there isn“t that much customization, but hey, at least I was still able to give a lion a mohawk.
Once you get into the actual game, you“ll be introduced to the story, whichâ€¦isn“t really all that important to this game. Within the realm of Veil, your main objective is basically to save Ataraxis - sphinx ruler of the hub town of Nexus - from a curse inflicted upon him by an unknown entity. But really, the story of Heroes of Ruin is mainly just a catapulting device meant to launch the game into action. Think of it as sort of an isometric version of Dark Souls (but much, much easier).
The dialogue isn“t all that important, either. Half of the time, I found myself skimming what the NPCs said just so I could get back to the action. All you really need to know is that these guys are giving you quests - whether they be part of the storyline or just some random sidequest. Anyone else you come across in the game is just there to take up space and make Nexus feel a little less barren.
Of course, the cut scenes are always pretty fun to watch, even if the story is a little so-so. This is mostly due to the crafty art style to which these scenes are presented and the 3D effect making them pop out so nicely. I was also pleasantly surprised when I saw my own character translated right into the cut scenes, customizations and all.
Unfortunately, I can“t say that the rest of the game“s graphical capabilities are all that impressive. The 3D effect made the isometric world stick out pretty well, but for the most part, the textures just made the game look like a 3D PSP game. But that“s not to say that the graphics aren“t tolerable. When compared with games like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Resident Evil: Revelations, though, the graphics are pretty disappointing for a 3DS game. But for the simple dungeon-crawler that this game is, the fun factor is by no means stunted by this.
The people in this game look pretty dull themselves. The character models are all blocky and the character animations are a bit awkward-looking. These are things that sometimes make the game look better in 2D mode, because with the 3D turned on, the graphical flaws are further enhanced. And that is by no means a good thing.
One other thing that makes the cut scenes in Heroes of Ruin enjoyable is the narrative. This is because the voice acting is so well-done here. And this is exactly what makes the rest of the game somewhat disappointing in the voiceover department. Why? Because the narrative in the cut scenes is just about the only area in which the voice actors show any effort. Aside from the occasional voiceovers for certain characters, such as before and after boss fights, anyone else who speaks just sounds like some college kids trying to imitate the British.
The sound effects in the game are pretty good, too, panning between right and left speakers depending on the position of the sound“s source. But although the sounds are often pounding with realism, this game can often suffer from little sound farts, such as sounds being out of sync, or nonexistent at all. And that often includes the game“s music.
On that topic, the music in Heroes of Ruin is decent, but it“s certainly nothing to rave about (especially not at rave parties). The soundtrack consists of simplistic tunes that are only there to complement the dungeons you“re in, along with the song that plays during the game“s hub town. Other than that, you“ll be hearing a few songs that are just remixes of the game“s menu theme, as well as a few generic boss battle themes.
The real meat on the bones of this 3DS title is the hack-n“-slash combat and, of course, the looting. Suffering from a few minor technical bumps, the combat in Heroes of Ruin is pretty fluid and pretty fun, albeit a bit repetitive. Aside from your basic attack, you also get three slots to place skills of your choice, which you learn by leveling up. Unfortunately, your level caps at level 30, so you have to pick and choose which skills you want to perfect.
Looting in this game is one of the most addicting parts about it. While scouring the dungeons to complete your quests, you“ll find plenty of treasure, which you“ll often feel too compelled not to pick up, even if your character can“t even use it. You“ll find a lot of useless loot that you“ll want to sell, but finding the good stuff makes me feel all warm inside.
It“s a shame that Heroes of Ruin couldn“t be more challenging, though. I found it pretty easy to get through a dungeon by simply mashing the basic attack button over and over again until I met with the boss. I rarely even had to block or dodge at all, and I still managed to keep the max amount of potions most of the way through. And the lack of challenge is made even more lacking once you play online, as the difficulty is only on one setting, no matter what.
After playing Heroes of Ruin online for a bit, it soon becomes apparent that the game was made to play online. And boy, does this game pull it off. With seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op that even includes voice chat, this has to be one of the most comprehensive online experiences the 3DS has to offer. It also provides an array of different challenges that offer rewarding loot upon completion in an online quest system that is updated regularly. This keeps the game quite fresh for those willing to give these challenges a shot, which is good, because the campaign will only last you about six hours.
The online integration is also very stable, giving me very few lagging problems. There are a few flaws with it, however. These include the already-lengthy loading screens made even longer and the fact that those who host games will be booted as soon as the system is closed.
Overall, Heroes of Ruin is a pretty solid attempt at bringing the dungeon-crawler genre to the 3DS. It“s a fun little game that offers a very robust online integration, fun combat, and loot - lots and lots of loot. But with all its draws, the game also has its flaws. It“s a graphically-unimpressive game that lacks in challenge, structure, and length. Fortunately, none of that will really keep you from having fun, at least until the next 3DS dungeon-crawler comes along to follow in its footsteps.
+ Robust online integration
+ Fun hack-'n-slash gameplay
+ Looting is always welcome
- Game lacks challenge
- Too short
Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)
While it certainly isn't perfect, Heroes of Ruin isn't broken, either. If you're a fan of scouring dungeons and looting with friends, this is the game for you.