Journey Into the Heart of a Cursed City
The indie game scene is oftentimes one that aims to capture the nostalgia of the titles that defined our youth. Other times it tries to offer a different experience while using familiarity or nostalgia only as a foundation. Lone Ruin is a game that falls into the latter category. It’s a game that uses a similar setup as its foundation while offering a unique experience.
Lone Ruin is a magical themed twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements. This is a game that will get your attention with its artistic design and familiar setup. It will be how it puts your skills to the test that will make you come back for more.
A City in Ruin
The story is set in what are the remains of an ancient city. Once upon a time, it was the center of civilization and the magic world. Everything changed when a curse spread turning it into a hellscape. What caused its downfall has remained a mystery while its many treasures of magical knowledge have been lost to time. Its history and mystery now attract spellcasters who come to the ruins to find the truth.
Players take on the role of a spellcaster who has arrived to the ancient city to learn the truth. They will venture into the ruined city while battling waves of demons and monsters.
From a storytelling perspective, it keeps it simple and in a more creative way. Sometimes less is more and that is the direction the worldbuilding for Lone Ruin goes for. You are told what you need to know, some lore is dropped but everything else is left to the player. Thus creating the ideal narrative atmosphere for such an experience.
Venturing into the Ruins
Gameplay is a twin-stick shooter but with magic instead of bullets. When players first begin a playthrough, they have the choice of which spell to start with. Each of the spells has its advantages and disadvantages (mostly based on the player’s preferred combat style). As players progress, they could unlock other spells and upgrade their skill sets. However; don’t be too dependent on one spell, try playing around with the other options just for fun.
When playing for the first time, I would highly recommend starting with easy mode. This is just to get a good feel for the overall experience and the fast-paced action. Regardless of your skill-set, the game eases you into the action at first before going all out. When it goes all out, that is when the fun truly starts. After getting a good feel for everything, absolutely play it in normal mode. Hard mode is also great if you really want a challenge. Personally; hard mode is great when you want something more intense while normal is ideal when you just want to have fun.
This being a roguelike experience ensures that it will be rich in replay value. No two playthroughs are going to be the same so do expect a different experience every time you play. From the start, you will be tossed into a stage and will have the option to pick your path (for better or worse). I say for better or worse because each path could either be rewarding or challenging, depending on what waits for the player. Of course one also can’t overlook the joy in Survival mode.
Finally; one can’t overlook the visual designs and play on colors. It truly does set the ideal tone and atmosphere of the overall game.
I have enjoyed my time playing Lone Ruin, but it’s not a prefect game. Its only real problem is the level design and layout gets repetitive (way too quickly). The game is visually mesmerizing with its colorful but grim visuals and the dungeons capitalize on this. However, it’s too dependent on the visual style while level design and layout doesn’t evolve beyond a few simple options. There are a few curveballs tossed in but it’s very limited.
But, when the combat is intense and fast pace, it won’t really matter or one could use it as an advantage.
Don’t Go in Alone
Lone Ruin is a fast-paced magical twin-stick shooter that will test your skills and make you come back for more. In its simple concept, it has the right amount of everything while being rich in lore and replay value. This is a game for those who like a challenge and a bit of mystery with their fun.
Disclaimer: Super Rare Games provided the game used in this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Lone Ruin (PC)
- Simple and effective storytelling that sets the perfect narrative atmosphere.
- Fun and intense fast paced combat.
- Roguelike ensures the game is rich in replay value.
- Visual designs and play on colors set the perfect tone.
- Level design and layout gets repetitive way too quickly.