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Found 14 results

  1. Developer: Spike Chunsoft/Lancarse Publisher: Spike Chunsoft Platform: PS4 and PC Release Date: April 9, 2019 ESRB: M for Mature After the many memorable twists and turns of the iconic Danganronpa series one would guess that the next project by many of its former key staff would strike at a similar gaming vein. And yet, that sort of assumption could not have been further off the mark. Spike Chunsoft's newest title, Zanki Zero: Last Beginning, explores and experiments with much more uncharted territory by combining first-person dungeon crawling gameplay, survival systems, and the perpetual death and rebirth of its lead cast. To say it is a departure from their previous visual novel work would honestly be putting it lightly. As cliche as this turn of phrase likely winds up being it is still more than tempting to say there is not really anything quite like Zanki Zero: Last Beginning as a game. Or, at the very least, it is the most unique first-person dungeon crawler in recent memory within a world where it is all too easy to compare to the highly-acclaimed Etrian Odyssey series, for better or for worse. The most immediate way Zanki Zero establishes its distinct take on the subgenre is through its inherent story/premise. Despite its initial Danganronpa-esque setup, in which several adults find themselves with trapped on an abandoned island (with clear gaps in the memory in how they got there), the title quickly veers into much stranger territory. After the prologue sequence the lead cast of characters not only learns that they can be revived after even the goriest of deaths via an arcade-like "extend machine" to a literal child-like state once more, but also that they are all clones that age an accelerated rate to the point where they will die of old age in roughly two weeks time. This odd narrative pretense is creatively implemented into nearly every facet of the game. Story scenes vary based on each character's current physical age, down to appearance and voice pitch, leading to many odd interactions throughout between the cast throughout as they try and figure out their current bizarre predicament. On a gameplay front, however, the aging mechanic becomes very much a variable to take into account as it directly affects combat prowess such as how quickly characters can attack to the ever-present worry of when one of them may simply die of old age while exploring. Perhaps more morbid than frequently dying of old age as a gameplay mechanic (if one can even live that long) is that dying in different ways, known in-game as "Shigabane", is highly encouraged as it is the primary means of strengthening your characters. For example, dying while being poisoned permanently increases one's resistance to toxin, and kicking the bucket as an old geezer permanently slows down the aging process entirely, and biting the dust while over encumbered permanently increases how much a character can carry at any one time. It is an intriguing system but admittedly becomes somewhat annoying on higher difficulties because so many enemies and environmental obstacles can more or less one-hit KO characters if one does not deliberately grind for different Shigabane in advance, despite being negligible on the lowest difficulties otherwise. While a good majority of Zanki Zero's gameplay mechanics are in its addictive dungeon expeditions (and some creative environmental puzzles) in each story chapter, there are a few noteworthy systems outside of it. For instance, in the main island, hub players can build new facilities such as crafting benches for equipable gear, housing (which has a whole affinity system if certain characters share rooms enough), or even a creating working toilet. Still, it is a shame that, either due to wildly varying drop rates between the different difficulties or item information being obfuscated altogether at times (how was I supposed to know that "monkey adhesive" does not actually drop from the monkey enemies?), a lot of it is unlikely to be underutilized by the end. Regardless, the most disappointing aspects of the entire game are simply the gameplay or story elements that get underdeveloped in spite of the often engaging dungeon crawling. Like, players eventually get access to parasitic implants called "Cilione" that give characters unique skills for healing, attacking, or the ability to open new parts of the terrain, but are never really encouraged to be used that much due to the harsh penalty they inflict on overuse. It is a similar deal with a lot of other gameplay mechanics such as targeting/breaking enemy limbs or keeping up with aspects like the hunger/bladder meters as the necessity of either are nearly entirely decided upon if one is playing on the highest difficulties or not (which thankfully can be toggled between mid-playthrough). Yet, the storytelling itself has even more unrealized potential. Despite having some intriguing character-focused vignettes each chapter that delve into some rather dark subject matter, the main story itself almost serves to contrast by unfortunately meandering a lot. Every other story chapter forces some shallow attempt at shock value and play upon the seven deadly sins motif, but is easily undermined by the fact the characters are, well, clones that can be revived upon death. Plus, it really does not help that even the interesting flashbacks are setup by some truly awful mascot characters that put showcase's the games writing at its absolute worst with juvenile and tone deaf potty humor that thinks it is amusing. It is a shame that, regardless of the developer's Danganronpa pedigree, the storytelling of Zanki Zero is barely a noteworthy footnote in stark contrast to the much more engaging dungeon crawling. Zanki Zero: Last Beginning frequently bounces between both refreshingly unique to incredibly flawed all in the same breath. It plays with a lot of different gameplay systems going from surprisingly addictive dungeon crawling and level puzzles to survival mechanics that do not quite stand out as much as the game wants them to be. If anything, the title should be played more so due to its zany take on dungeon crawling RPGs than going in with preconceived notions of expecting something similar at all story-wise to the developer's prior work in Danganronpa, and that is perfectly fine. Pros + Genuinely unique take on the DRPG mold that is a welcome contrast from the developer's previous work + Varied level motifs and puzzles prevent it from getting tedious like many in the subgenre + Aging mechanic helps present both cutscenes as well as the dungeon crawling in an intriguing light + Quirky overall personality and characters that have twisted backstories Cons - Those expecting it to be particularly similar to Danganronpa, or only care about the main storytelling, are likely to be disappointed - Frequent inventory management or attempting to get different "Shigabane" can get tedious on higher difficulties - Really juvenile writing at times that is especially annoying when the two mascot characters are on-screen (which is too often) - Some underutilized gameplay systems like the base building or Cilione abilities Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is a refreshingly unique take on dungeon crawlers that is only really held back by it not going quite far enough with certain gameplay systems or, more disappointing, its underutilized storytelling Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  2. gaiages

    Review: Demon Gaze

    Developer: Kadokawa Games Publisher: NIS America Platform: PlayStation Vita Release Date: April 22, 2014 ESRB: T (for Teen) Dungeon crawlers have experienced a resurgence in popularity lately. Possibly brought out by the success of the 3DS Etrian Odyssey entries, fans of the typically hard-as-nails genre now have a slew of dungeon crawlers to choose from to fill their time. From new IPs like Unchained Blades, classic revivals the like of Might & Magic X: Legacy, to upcoming adventures such as Persona Q, the market for dungeon crawlers has become just a bit crowded in such a short period of time. Amongst this steady flow of dungeon crawlers is Demon Gaze, a Vita exclusive that's bound to get fans of the genre interested in their Sony handheld again. However, does Demon Gaze deserve to be held up as a new great title to the genre, or will it be cast aside in favor of other dungeon crawlers? In Demon Gaze, you (as in, the main character) wake up in a basement, with no memory of how you've gotten there. After running into and defeating a demon (while a battle-hardened scantily-clad woman simply watched), you learn that you have the ability to capture demons with a glance, and are aptly named the Demon Gazer for it. From then on, you and your party will venture into the dangerous world of Mislid, capturing demons at the behest of the mysterious manager of the Dragon Princess Inn, Fran. The plot is not particularly fantastic, but it provides enough incentive to keep moving through the game. However, some of the scenes fall firmly in the realm of 'fanservice' territory--morticians too zoned out to put on clothes and panty-sniffing catgirls are not out of the question in Demon Gaze. While these scenes do give the game a bit of humor where there otherwise would be none, it still feels a bit out of place in a story that involves dangerous, somewhat dark dungeoneering. Like most dungeon crawlers, though, Demon Gaze's strong point is in its gameplay. Throughout the game, you'll gather a party of the Gazer and four others, and go through various dungeons, claiming Circles and eventually finding and defeating the demon of that area. The Circles are particularly interesting to work with, too. Every time you come across a Circle, you can put one to three Gems (which drop from normal enemy encounters) inside the Circle. Once you do, an enemy mob will appear, its strength and type depending on the Gems you placed, and upon defeating them you'll obtain equipment and gear to outfit your party. It's very important to keep your equipment updated in Demon Gaze, and besides from buying it from the Weapon and Item shops, using Gems and Circles to their maximum capacity is the only way to get better equipment. Circle usage becomes even more important when considering the fact that buying almost any kind of item in the game is pretty expensive; when you have to manage money to buy rooms for your party and pay for a steadily increasing rent, buying equipment and recovery items becomes a lot harder to handle. Also, since selling equipment is the main way of earning money, it becomes a balancing game of choosing what equipment to keep, what to sell, and what to extract ether from to strengthen your equipment. In Demon Gaze, you can also use the demons you've captured to your advantage. By wielding Demon Keys, you can summon the demon into battle, essentially adding a sixth, uncontrollable party member. Demons are typically very powerful, and grant stats bonuses such as increased attack or evasion. However, you have to be careful when summoning demons; if you run out of your Demon Gauge before you turn the demon back into a Key, they will go into a Rage, and start attacking your own party--practically a deal breaker in boss battles. Initially, you can only have one demon with you when you go out adventuring, although you can change what Demon Key you hold at any Circle, but upon the Gazer leveling up you'll be able to take more keys with you, allowing for better battle strategies and for more demons to rank up (essentially level up) and gain new abilities. Other than these mechanics, though, this title follow the standard dungeon crawling fare: You explore various dungeons from a first person view, filling out a map square by square as you try to find and control the Circles in the area. You also can fully customize your party, including their race, class, and gender. While there isn't a character creator per se, you're allowed full range of customization within the options given to you. So, if you wanted to make your Dwarf Healer look like an axe-wielding catgirl in a bikini with a manly superhero voice, you could. It's important to note, though, that there is a difference stat-wise between the five available races, and each stat can only be raised a certain amount above its base, so choosing the right race for the appropriate class can make a difference in the end- and post-game scenarios. A small frustration is that, while the game's auto-mapping is quite good overall, Demon Gaze does not bother to mark where event markers are. This is likely due to the fact that they change and move as the game goes on, but if you happen to forget where to go to advance a quest, it can be somewhat of a pain to explore the various rooms to try and find the one person you needed to talk to. However, these grievances are relatively minor when compared to the game as a whole. Something great that the title has is a sense of steady, constant progression. Many dungeon crawlers pride themselves on the fact that they are extremely tough, requiring a lot of skill and patience to work through. Demon Gaze focuses far less on this aspect, making the game a bit easier with a number of small tweaks. Character levels come quickly and easily as you progress through the game, and each stat increase feels like it makes a difference. Controlled Circles also can act as save points, minimizing the risk of extended dungeon outings. Characters learn skills in a linear fashion, taking the guesswork out of skill trees and trying to choose what skill is "better" (although you can still customize your party members a little by equipping artifacts that will teach them skills outside their class). Overall normal enemy battles are manageable, rarely pulling unfair or hard to counter stunts until you hit the intimidating Grimador Castle. All these small changes make Demon Gaze as a whole just a bit easier to delve into, and makes it perfect for those looking to get into the dungeon crawling genre. However, that doesn't mean it shuns veterans of the genre away, either; with adjustable difficulties and the ability to make rather unorthodox parties, there's plenty for those who've mastered the likes of the Etrian Odyssey series to enjoy here. All in all, Demon Gaze manages to stand strong in a sea of new dungeon crawlers. Its unique mechanics help it find its own voice, and various tweaks make the title enjoyable to new dungeon crawling initiates and battle-hardened veterans alike. If anything, Demon Gaze gives Vita owners a reason to pick up and play their Sony portable again. Pros: + Steady sense of progression stops the title from feeling grindy or overly difficult + Beautiful character art and great soundtrack give some nice eye and ear candy while exploring + Managing money and equipment feels rewarding and challenging Cons: - The lack of event markers on the map can make it difficult to find events to progress the story - Sometimes the story scenes fall clearly into the realm of fan-service which can grate on the nerves Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic A few hiccups aside, Demon Gaze deserves to be in every Vita RPG fan's line-up. Disclaimer: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  3. barrel

    soul hackers 7

    From the album: Soul Hackers

    © http://image.gamespotcdn.net

  4. From the album: Soul Hackers

    © http://image.gamespotcdn.net

  5. barrel

    997805 20130416 screen047

    From the album: Soul Hackers

    © http://image.gamespotcdn.net

  6. barrel

    997805 20130416 screen032

    From the album: Soul Hackers

    © http://image.gamespotcdn.net

  7. From the album: Soul Hackers

    © http://image.gamespotcdn.net

  8. Remember The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave, the weird little dungeon crawling RPG that came out of seemingly nowhere last year? If not, then you really should check it out since it's pretty great. In any case, it looks like Genius Sonority Inc. is bringing the sequel here to North America! The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves appears to improve on its predecessor in every way, as well as including some exciting new additions. For example, dungeons must now be found on your own in an overworld map, your town can be personalized with flowers, and Denpa Men combat and customization has become much more polished and advanced. You can also battle with your Denpa Men against friends and take on a challenging StreetPass dungeon. You won't have to wait long for this exciting game either! The Denpa Men 2 will be available to download through the 3DS eShop on May 2nd.
  9. Although fans were aware that developer Almost Human was working on something for Legend of Grimrock, it was still left under wraps. In fact, the team was so busy with other things that they weren't even sure as to what their project was. Today it has been announced via their official blog that Legend of Grimrock II is coming after all. Here is an excerpt from today's post: "Secondly, and this is a biggie (probably more to ourselves than you!), we are now officially working on… Legend of Grimrock 2! Creating a mere DLC or expansion to Grimrock simply would not have felt right. As today“s meeting proved, we still have a lot of ideas we“d like to explore, lots and lots of new content already done (originally made for a DLC/expansion) and a big engine update in the works. Simply put, a DLC would have limited too much what we can do. With a full blown sequel we can raise Grimrock to the next level. I“m sure you had all this figured out for a while already, but announcing a project is something we don“t take lightly, so we had to be really sure that this is the thing we want to blow our hearts and souls into." You may recall that they had been planning DLC for Legend of Grimrock. However, now we all know that this has been changed into a full-fledged game instead. If nothing else, the developer is bursting with ideas for a sequel. No date was announced but it will probably not arrive until late last this year, if not next year.
  10. Marcus Estrada

    PSP RPG Elminage is Available Today

    Sony may be focusing a lot on the PS3 and Vita lately, but that doesn't mean that everyone has given up on the PSP. The system has seen many great games come to it late in its lifespan and now UFO Interactive has brought a tremendously under-hyped game to it. Today the dungeon crawler Elminage Original is available for the system via PSN. In case you've never heard of the title then here's a bit of information about it. The game is a tough RPG which allows for a fair bit of customization. Between 12 races and 16 classes, there is a lot of choice given for what you want your party to be like. This is taken further by the fact that the game even allows you to make your own portraits for the team members if you so choose. It's probably also a good idea to classify Elminage Original as fairly "hardcore" thanks to a lack of in depth tutorial and overall tough difficulty. The game costs $15 and works on both PSP and Vita. Having an expanded audience will certainly help it, although at its core it is a PSP game. Hopefully UFO Interactive or Sony finds a way to make the game more known, because this is certainly no easy day for a game to launch thanks to Hitman: Absolution, Persona 4 Golden, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Here is the official trailer for those curious about the dungeon crawler:
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Silent Hill: Book of Memories

    Developer: WayFoward Technologies Publisher: Konami Platform: Vita Release Date: October 16, 2012 ESRB: M for Mature When Silent Hill: Book of Memories was announced as being a multiplayer-focused dungeon crawler, fans couldn“t handle it. Many longtime lovers of the Silent Hill series complained that the choices put into the Vita title would ruin any shot at the game being a part of the series. Some of this opposition even got into the minds of non-fans, who then were less excited to give it a shot. All of this was said long before anyone was playing the game though. Now that Book of Memories is finally out, everyone can finally form an opinion on it. Were fans“ worries on the mark or were they taking this spin-off too seriously? First off, one must go into this game knowing that it is a huge departure from the more established world of Silent Hill on consoles. It is obviously a spin-off, but it is so far from the series that it could almost be considered a new game. There are ways that it is brought back to the town of Silent Hill, but for the most part you will see little of that franchise in how the game controls. In regards to looks though, there are many similarities. These things do not cause any issue for the game as they work well together. When starting up the game you“ll be greeted with a slightly hammy story about a young adult who is visited by a mailman. This mailman (straight out of Silent Hill: Downpour) brings you a book, says a few odd remarks, then leaves. Your character, which is designed with simple customization tools, looks through the tome and discovers that their entire life has been detailed in it. For no real reason other than curiosity, they then decide to edit the book and change fate. With that, every time they sleep they enter a horrific dream world where gameplay takes place. Once in these randomly-generated dungeon worlds you are on your own (well, in single player). Silent Hill 3“s Valtiel greets you and assigns a task. Although finishing his quests are not required, they will cause him to reward you. Unless you“re in a huge rush, though, you will often achieve the goal by simply wandering around. Each dungeon has a few standby features such as special challenge rooms, one save, shop, locked doors, and a puzzle at the end. It might already be sounding somewhat Silent Hill-like, but what really seals the deal is the visuals. Main enemies in the game are drawn straight from throughout the series. Nurses are among the first you encounter, but so too are gaggles of other enemy types. If fans aren“t pushed away by the cross pollution of characters, then they may in fact enjoy seeing them all together. The dungeons themselves are also designed with distinct Silent Hill flair. Backdrops are often dark, grated, rusty, and all around depressing. No one would confuse Book of Memories with a Diablo or Torchlight game. Beyond the visuals, the game takes on a very new identity. Gameplay is just like one would expect from a dungeon crawler. From your isometric perspective you wander from room to room, collecting weapons, ammo, or notes, and try to find the end. Along the way you will come across enemies in most rooms as well as stronger enemies scattered throughout. Fighting is accomplished by simply swinging or firing a weapon and doing best to not get hit back. Players can either dodge or block to lessen damage, but this becomes tough to do if enemies corner you. Weapons themselves sometimes fall from enemies or are found in drawers and the environment. Gameplay is very challenging. It takes a little bit to get a feel for how to best fight enemy types, but even after that you“ll still see that it is hard to proceed quickly. This is because characters are also required to level up their skills (and weapons). Fighting enemies loitering in rooms is often cumbersome, but it is the only way to rise up the ranks. If you aren“t properly leveled, you won“t be able to proceed too many stages ahead. Although you aren“t required to grind, it often becomes the best tactic for continued smooth progress throughout the game. Grinding in and of itself is no issue but becomes a chore after a while. This is true of many other titles as well, but especially so here when rooms are so tiny and weapons break. Although breakable weapons are certainly a modern feature of Silent Hill games, it is an especially unhelpful addition here. At the start, and even after leveling up your backpack, there are only a few spaces to store items. There are a fair amount of weapons to find from level to level, but often you“re going to want to keep stronger things with you. Thankfully, there is an item which repairs weapons but you can only carry so many of these at a time as well (upgrades when backpack is upgraded). It is tough to fight through hordes of enemies while keeping a grip on your favorite weapons without them breaking. If there were a few more slots opened up early on then it would be less of a problem. Another feature that causes grinding to be a bit rough is Karma. All throughout play, there is a Karma meter at the top of the screen which shows if you are aligning toward a dark or light path. It doesn“t make much sense, as you can get either path by killing enemies, but it does serve a purpose. When enemies die, they will have a pool of blood where they once stood. This blood is either red or white, and when you run over it, you collect it. In this way, you can choose to collect only red or white to boost your Karma in either direction. Doing so will affect notes that are scattered around as well as push towards one of the game“s multiple endings. What are these notes I“ve mentioned a few times? They are a part of the game that seem to harken back best to the world of Silent Hill. Each level has its own series of notes scattered around the world which tell little interpersonal stories between people. They aren“t very important to the gameplay at hand, but give you glimpses into troubles others are facing. When notes are red, it means that they are showing off a darker side of the story, while white provides more peaceful resolutions. There was no need to have this addition in the game but the fact that it is shows that WayForward was looking for some way to please fans. It“s a nice attempt, as is how the Karma will change up a few things. At the end of every dungeon is a puzzle. In order to operate the puzzles, though, you must go through and find all the parts necessary for it. As you will be tending to clear out dungeons for leveling, finding these objects is rarely a challenge. That doesn“t mean they are perfect puzzles either. The main issue with the end of level puzzles is that they are all highly similar. You may find a puzzle clue in the level earlier, but they all will say a handful of hints, depending on the puzzle. Obviously this is done because there are many levels possible and randomizing puzzles means you can only offer so many hints and puzzle types. Fans will balk at these puzzles because they are incredibly easy once you understand what each hint means. On that same note, other players may find it annoying because they can“t understand what a more obscure clue means. Either way, once a puzzle is solved, they may proceed onward. Every few levels there will be a boss fight. These certainly aren“t unknown to the franchise and bring a bit more creativity to the game. At these points, you'll be forced to fight against wholly new creatures which are pretty big and tough. Once they have been defeated, you“ll get a strong (and pricey) weapon as well as a note. Sometimes, after grabbing a note you“ll be unable to grab the weapon, so make sure to always grab the item first. Grinding through levels with a boss at the end are a good idea as you are able to sell off the strong weapons for a lot of money afterward. However, much of the game seems entirely lonely and cumbersome in single player. Taking the game online for a 2-4 player co-op session really is the preferred way to play Book of Memories. Once in a game with another player, you are free to do whatever, but for the most fun it is best to explore together rather than running off separately. You may collaborate with other members by using in-game voice prompts or simply speak into the Vita speaker for others to hear. In the case of a game like this, the microphone feature is integral so it“s great to see it used. Once working together, teams can blaze through levels much easier. One issue with multiplayer is that objects do not remain for both players. That means you“ll probably have many teammates who, upon entering a room, will dash off to open all drawers to loot them. This leaves little weaponry, health, and the like for others. The same can be said for notes, which disappear after being read by one person. Puzzles can also only be solved by one person at a time but that“s a good thing since otherwise it would be chaotic. Also of note, only the player hosting an online game will have progress registered upon completing new levels. However, everyone will retain their leveled up stats and weapons once heading offline. Still, multiplayer is the place to be if you can find a game to join. The key word in that statement is “if”. There were a handful of online games during the week of release, but since then they have leveled off quite a bit. The likelihood now of stumbling into a game is much tougher. I routinely checked daily and found that no one was around. This doesn“t mean that no one is playing online though. There are small groups that have formed to play together, but good luck getting into them now. The hope is that after a while more people will have the game and therefore there will be more chances at playing online with others. At the very least, if you have a friend with the game, you know they will be around for some online dungeon crawling. Finally, there must be some discussion of the game“s other Vita functions. One of the best implementations comes in use with special attacks. Players can use these once they have enough good or bad Karma and they are triggered with the rear touch pad. It“s easy to do because it is out of the way and your fingers are there anyway. More troubling is the use of the front touch pad. In order to use items in your inventory or pick up weapons, the front touch screen must be used. This wouldn“t be so bad if it weren“t for the fact that you often won“t have the time to carefully plan out your touch. During battles with lots of enemies, you may want to quickly use some health. However, many times it will end up that your touch slightly misses the health. Fearing death, players might hammer around with their thumbs a bit more, using two or three health in rapid succession instead. The touch area is small and it“s not intuitive enough to force players to use. When it comes right down to it, Silent Hill: Book of Memories is mostly an average, forgettable experience in single player. It may have all the dressings of a Silent Hill game, but that in no way makes the game more compelling. The best the game has to offer is a multiplayer mode that becomes fun due to difficulty being more manageable. Good multiplayer games also foster a kinship between the other players who are willing to share items and protect each other. Without such a mode, though, it feels like the game is missing something over a very long experience. Your best bet is to pick this game up if you love dungeon crawlers and have a buddy or two who are willing to explore by your side. Pros: + Multiplayer with a helpful team is quite enjoyable + Enemies pulled from the series are fun to see all together + Strong weapons to be found to destroy everything in your path Cons: - Limited inventory + breakable weapons is not a fun combo - “Silent Hill” connection is mostly aesthetic - Gameplay is not varied, nor are level puzzles Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Despite initial fears, Silent Hill: Book of Memories is at its most fun when exploring dungeons with others.
  12. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Heroes of Ruin

    Developer: n-Space 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, which…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. Pros: + Robust online integration + Fun hack-'n-slash gameplay + Looting is always welcome Cons: - Graphically-unimpressive - Game lacks challenge - Too short Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good 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.
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