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Heroes of Ruin (3DS) artwork

Heroes of Ruin (3DS) review


""WHERE. ARE. MY. ALLIES!?""



Heroes of Ruin is your typical action-RPG in most ways. Imagine a Diablo-style dungeon crawler on the 3DS. Whatever you’re picturing in your head right now, it probably looks exactly like Heroes of Ruin does.

The game doesn’t take long to get going. You pick a character class (Vindicator, Gunslinger, Alchitect, or Savage, which roughly translate into Knight, Gunner, Mage, and... Savage) and tweak its appearance by changing its hairstyle or skin tone. Then you head into a dungeon and start bashing monsters. Naturally, there are quests you can accept from various NPCs littered about the dungeons or in Nexus, the game’s hub city. Quest objectives mostly can be summarized with commands: “Collect a certain number of magic things dropped by a certain type of monster” or “Head into a certain dungeon and find the book/sword/toddler someone left behind.” There are also a few puzzles scattered about, though most of them are optional. Even the one puzzle that you’ll encounter while completing a mandatory story quest can be skipped once you spend enough time fumbling around with it.

As for the story, it’s unremarkable. You’ll learn about a world ravaged by war and a sphinx that rules a city and is cursed and can’t wake up. None of it is very interesting, and events are revealed through hand-drawn storyboard cutscenes that manage to look cheap rather than impressive, so you probably won’t pay much attention to it. One thing I did like about the hand-drawn cutscenes, though is that in the rare instance where my character appeared within a scene, he actually possessed the hairstyle/colour/skin tone I had set for him at the point of character creation, an attentive touch on the part of the game developers. Still, the story’s greatest strength is that it’s mostly unobtrusive and you won’t feel bad for skipping most of it.

The world itself isn’t very interesting either. Three of the four areas (each containing a themed set of dungeons) are typical water/forest/ice areas that you’ve seen in hundreds of games before. Characters are generic to the point that it’s sometimes difficult to even tell them apart. The boring fantasy dialog doesn’t help, either, with comments like “well met” and “may the gods protect you” littering every other conversation.

Thankfully, the meat of the game--actually exploring dungeons and fighting monsters to collect loot--is perfectly serviceable. Every class possesses several skill trees that grant passive and active buffs or attacks. My skill set of choice for my Savage was Meat Hook (which involves throwing a hook on a chain to drag enemies closer, or allowed me to drag myself closer to large enemies), Juggernaut (briefly raises a character’s speed, which is great given how slowly Savages move), and Frenzy (a chain of powerful attacks that keeps going as long as you keep the button held and have enough energy). Your loadout is limited to three abilities at a time, but each character can learn a total of ten abilities. That fact means no two characters are likely to play exactly alike. Enemies are somewhat varied, coming in all shapes and sizes, though your strategy to take them down never changes: hit them until they die.

Heroes of Ruin may not be very exciting, but it does have a major strength in the form of a robust online co-op mode. There are plenty of features, including local and online drop-in/drop-out multiplayer. Friends or strangers can pop into your game at any time and leave without penalty. Monster numbers and strength increase or decrease on the fly, depending on the number of active players. “Alliances” are automatically formed with friends, rewarding you with gameplay perks (such as more rare item spawns) based on how much time you’ve spent playing with the same people. There’s even voice chat, and not just with players registered to your friends list. All 3DS games should handle online so well.

Sadly, even the co-op mode isn’t without its faults. Things can get a little wonky when four players play together, resulting in decreased frame rates and instances where characters appear to teleport from one place to another rather than actually moving as normal. Ganging up on hordes of enemies and bosses is all well and good, but aside from that, players don’t really interact with each other much. Most abilities that grant buffs or restore health don't affect allies until fully strengthened, which most skills will never get the chance to be. The game will most likely conclude before you level up that far, and there’s no post-game content to speak of. There’s also a very finite number of quests, and dungeon bosses stay dead once you slay them. By the time players are able to actually interact with and support each other, there’s little reason to do so beyond the daily and weekly SpotPass quests that basically just amount to more grinding. As I write this, the current weekly quest is “Kill 1500 enemies in the Coral Tombs.” I can’t imagine anything more boring. Still, just teaming up with other players and smashing your way through the story is reasonably fun on its own, and the different character classes and randomly-generated dungeons warrant multiple playthroughs if you have much fun the first time around. It’s just too bad that your character will never get the chance to live up to its full potential.

As you play Heroes of Ruin, you’re likely to notice that for everything the game does right, there seems to be an annoying little flaw to balance things out. Those nifty online features are pretty cool, for instance, but load times are long (albeit infrequent once you’re in a dungeon). Character and monster models are unimpressive at best, but levels generally have some nice-looking shaders and effects. Item management is cumbersome (you basically have to scroll past every item you have equipped to get to the useful parts of your inventory), but the ability to directly trade items with other players on the fly can be really useful.

Despite that range of niggling flaws, Heroes of Ruin is a fairly solid dungeon crawler. Multiplayer is enjoyable, and simply bashing enemies and exploring dungeons is good fun if you’re into that kind of thing. The game is a good choice when you simply want to sit down and play with friends, and it’s not like there are dozens of dungeon crawlers competing for your attention on the 3DS. The title certainly isn’t a must-play addition to your 3DS library, but you’ll probably have a decent time with it if you can convince a friend to pick up a copy too.

Rating: 7/10

Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (August 10, 2012)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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