Lost Ruins is one of those titles that grabs your attention with its anime-inspired visuals (also I’m a sucker for those). Underneath its visual design is a retro-inspired experience that understands the Metroidvania all too well. It doesn’t try to redefine the genre or be a spiritual successor to a long-forgotten title. It does its own thing in all the right ways.
This is a game crafted for old-school fans as it embraces everything that defined its inspirations. This is an experience that puts a heavy emphasis on trial and error while rewarding players for their curiosity. At the same time, it wants to welcome new players to the genre by allowing them to enjoy it at their own pace.
Pathway Into a World of Dark Secrets
Players take on the role of a young girl (known only as the Heroine) who wakes up in a dark world. She has no memory of how she came to this world or who she is. With the help and guidance of Beatrice, she must explore the many realms and find a way to escape. Along the way, you will battle a variety of monsters and meet new friends.
The story is explored through both the players’ interaction with other characters along with the many notes and journals scattered throughout the world. Interacting with other characters gives you an idea of this world while the journals help fill in the gaps. Some will be interesting while others will be heartbreak and some will give players a good chuckle. Telling a story in such a way can be a hit or miss and this is one example of it being done right.
Lost Ruins uses anime style to give the world its colorful but also grimy look. At the same time, it allows for encounters with bosses that are both grotesque and adorable at the same time. The musical style also helps set the mood by working to balance the colorful world with its grim atmosphere. At times, the music can be cheerful (despite the environment) while other times it adds to the eeriness.
The Need to Keep Going
Combat is a mix of using a variety of spells along with the classic hack’n slash. Players will collect weapons as they explore the world (each one suited based on the player’s preferred style). There is also a plethora of different spells (based on the elements of fire, ice, and poison) that having the potential to be effective against the right enemy. Adding to the combat is that players are encouraged to use both spells and weapons for effective results. Learning the combat system will be easy but mastering it will take some time.
Knowing how to use both weapons and spells is not the only way to survive this world. Players will also need to master the environment that defines this dungeons world. The right spell or actions could be amplified in the proper environment. At the same time, it could be weakened or hurt the player if they are not careful. It also helps to familiarize yourself with the map or you will get lost and waste resources trying to find the right path.
One will appreciate the variety in difficulty levels that are given. Players will have a variety of difficulties to choose from. Those new to such a game could have an experience that allows them to familiarize themselves with the world and the gameplay style. This makes sense as this is an experience that has a heavy emphasis on trial and error. You will get lost too many times while backtracking and (depending on the difficulty) dying. It’s also a game that rewards you for your curiosity and learning from your mistakes. Thus it makes sense for some to start on easy and then work their way up once they’ve mastered the gameplay. Those wanting a challenge will also be satisfied by the hardest difficulty options available.
Out of Mana
Lost Ruins only real issue seems to be the control doesn’t respond fast enough to the players’ desired action. There are going to be moments when your hits will not be detected or you will miss that ledge. During my playthrough, I used both a controller along with a mouse plus keyboard, and the results were the same. It’s not too big of an issue now, players will have to realize is there and adapt the best they can.
Finding Your Way Home
This is both an unforgettable Metroidvania style game and a love letter to the genre. It fully embraces the defining elements of the genre while also hitting all the right marks. It gets your attention with the artistic design choices while the gameplay and world will keep you playing for hours.
Lost Ruins is a Metroidvania inspired adventure with anime style visuals that knows its audience all too well while also making it welcoming for new gamers. It knows how to be silly and creepy, it can be easy or challenging, while also hitting all the right marks in regards to being a retro-inspired experience.
Disclaimer: DANGEN Entertainment 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.
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