LONE RUIN Review
LONE RUIN was developed by Cuddle Monster Games and published by Super Rare Games and has you taking on the role of a spellcasting explorer investigating an ancient city corrupted by the magic that once helped its residents. You will have to explore the ruins, find the source of this twisted magic that wiped out the residents of this city and purify what is left of this place. There isn't much else to this story besides a few cryptic cutscenes, but if you don't care about a story and want to get to the action, this is perfect.
LONE RUIN is a roguelike, twin-stick shooter with an isometric view, boasting a colour palette consisting of blues, purples, and pinks. I love the combination of these; it made the game feel dark and mysterious but still had a pop of colour when needed. Some people online weren't big fans like I was but to each his own. The gameplay instantly reminded me of Hades, especially when you have a selection of attacks to equip. The combat works differently than in Hades as you move around with one thumbstick and aim at the enemies with the other in Lone Ruin. There are two modes to challenge in the game — a Ruin Run, where you explore and see how far you can progress, and a Survival Mode to see how long you can live when faced with endless waves of enemies coming for you. There is a Normal or Hard difficulty depending on how much of a challenge you want.
As soon as you walk into the room a metal gate slams shut behind you. Now that you have entered, you can only leave once every one of the enemies is defeated. There are glowing lights on the floor that will remain a bright pink/red while there are still foes to beat, so it will be easy to tell if there is one that you missed. As you kill each enemy, they will drop gold that you can use to buy items and extra spells at the store. Once they are all done, the trail will turn to a glowing blue. You now select which path you take, and each one will reward you with a new spell, upgrade, or an item you can use to power up, replenish your health, or access the store. It's not worth going to the store if you have less than 100 gold as this is the cheapest item sold; it's usually more beneficial to take the other option.
If you run out of health and die, you will see a summary showing your total score based on how long you survived, currency collected, currency spent, enemies killed, damage done, and damage taken. The game has 24 rooms to clear, with a boss fight showing up every eighth. So with only three bosses to fight, chances are it won't take too long to complete — especially if you play a lot of titles like this, or if you have great reflexes.
To attack the enemy, you will use one of the spells you get from the mysterious stranger in the entrance, who wants to help you out because, as we all know, it’s dangerous to go alone! There is a selection of eight different spells you can choose from, including Chain Lightning, Scythe, Barrage, Fireball, Pulse, Boomerang, Rail, and Shards. Some of these spells, like Scythe, are better for close-up melee attacks. In contrast, others like Fireball and Chain Lightning are effective from a distance. Depending on your chosen path, these spells can be sold at any point or upgraded to make them stronger. There are three ways you can upgrade your spell; increase its power, extend its range, or decrease the cool-down period. It doesn't matter which spell you have selected; all the upgrade options will be the same. While not a spell, your Dash ability can also be upgraded to be more effective during your run to help you avoid incoming attacks.
While the evil baddies are attacking, you must avoid their shots coming toward you, as you only have five hearts. In the early rounds, it feels like the enemies are super slow in both movement and the speed of the blasts, but as you progress, their speed increases along with the challenge. There doesn't seem to be a pattern or indication of when they will attack so be sure to use the dash as much as you can. Just be sure to not jump into the water/pit, or you will die and will have to begin your run from the beginning once again. There isn’t a huge variety of enemies, but the three big bosses look quite cool.
During your run, different types of power-ups will appear for you to collect if you choose. Some of these items will increase the damage you do — like the Double Edge Sword — while others, like the Ghost Flower, will give you longer invulnerability when you get hurt. One of my favourite items was the Ankh as it brings you back to life when you fall in battle so you can continue your playthrough. There are tons of items to try out while playing to determine which you find the most useful and worth collecting.
The visuals in LONE RUIN are great; as I stated before, I was a big fan of the colour scheme and the combination of 2D and 3D visuals. The rooms are dark and grim, with some fog effects adding to the atmosphere. Enemies have an almost neon glow that makes them pop compared to the darker background behind them. The music was interesting, I was expecting moody and gloomy music, so I was surprised to hear upbeat techno synth-type tracks. It makes sense to match the game's fast-paced action, but if you aren't a fan of this type of music, you may be disappointed. The spells each have a unique sound that plays when cast, which I appreciated, along with the ambient sounds that fit well with the game's atmosphere.
I enjoyed playing LONE RUIN and found its gameplay incredibly addictive since no two runs are the same. Your run can be totally different based on the spells you select and the items you pick up. It was fun trying out the various combinations to determine which I found most effective. I think my favourite mix was using the Chain Lightning and the Fireball spell as my secondary spell; so far, I haven't found a more effective combo — but this will vary depending on your preferred attack style. I wish there was more to the story because I would love to hear the whole tale of this mysterious place. What happened to the residents that used to live here, instead of just brief flashes of the events. The game is quite short, and once you beat it, other than trying the Hard difficulty — assuming you started on Normal — there won't be too much replayability unless you are trying to place higher on the Leaderboard. Either way, it was still an enjoyable experience and worth checking out if you like roguelike, twin-stick shooters and it works great on the Steam Deck too.
LONE RUIN (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Lone Ruin is a beautiful and addictive game where you can choose your path and power-ups as you progress through these abandoned ruins fighting off numerous enemies. Unfortunately, the game is quite short, especially if you aren’t interested in getting a high score on the Leaderboard.