Once again, you steady your will and descend into the bowels of hell, to make battle with the demons and purge the city once and for all. As you pick out your spells from the bag, the odor of brimstone enters your nostrils making you gag just slightly. But there’s no time to take a breath, there is a city to save and demons waiting to be killed, so in this Lone Ruin review, we’re going to do a lot of that.
Survive the demons on-slaught
Lone Ruin, from the developers of Hell is Other Demons, is a twin-stick shooter that sees us descending into the bowels of a corrupted city to do battle with infernal forces. At the start of each run, we get the choice of an initial spell, with a few ones which have a starting bonus as well. Then it’s on to combat, as each room will present several waves of enemies with a reward for completing it. Each new spell will get assigned to a shoulder button if you’re playing with a gamepad.
Our character can use up to three different spells plus dodge, along with having up to five bonus skills. Traversing room to room while disposing of all enemies will be the soup du jour. Completing a room allows the player to choose which bonus they’ll get in the next one, like gold/health or bonus items, to better plan ahead for the run. These bonus abilities can range from using gold as a shield to protect ourselves to doubling our health powers. Unfortunately, most of the time abilities will be just referred to by name, so either one remembers them all by heart or it’ll just be a random guess.
What is it like to be a roguelike?
Each run in Lone Ruin will see you traverse three different stages, with a final boss at the end of each one. Defeat the final boss and the run is over. Now, you might be surprised by the mention of roguelike, since there doesn’t seem to be anything to unlock in Lone Ruin. Each run is just about enjoying the gameplay, trying out different combinations of spells and trying to beat our previous score. There is a survival mode, which is all about – naturally – trying to stay alive as much as possible while waves of enemies attack.
This main point is, I believe, a bit of a missed opportunity for Lone Ruin. While the gameplay is quite solid and the studio made use of all the lessons learned in their previous action roguelike, having some objective or ulterior motive to do “one more run” would have made this quite a package more easily recommendable to a general audience. Still, as it stands, the main mechanics in Lone Ruin are incredibly solid, with everything working as smoothly as one would wish. Its more “casual” nature makes it a perfect choice for the Switch, as your on-the-go game.
Lone Ruin also presents a very near-perfect balance of challenge vs fairness. Make no mistake, this is not an easy one to complete, as the first runs will probably leave you for dead before you even reach the first boss. But each run will see one’s skills improving progressively. Basically, we could think of Lone Ruin as a roguelike in that, with each death, the player gets more familiar with spells and items, thus improving their future chances at making a good run.
Retro with a vengeance
While it would be fair to call the graphics in Lone Ruin retro, they have their very own style and one could never confuse it for a random game from the 90s. Especially for the way the studio makes great use of a limited color palette, explosions and light and shadows. Still, beyond graphics, I also have to note the fantastic soundtrack which perfectly alternates between different moods, not just pumping out high energy drum’n’bass but also going for some exquisite moments of restrain.
Lone Ruin is a neat little package and one solid twin-stick shooter with a demonic twist. While unfortunately not offering tons of content besides the main mode and a bonus survival one, with only three stages to play through, this is one experience that fans of the genre really won’t want to miss out on, thanks also to its unique graphics and splendid soundtrack.
Lone Ruin: Lone Ruin is a solid roguelike twin stick shooter, while lacking a bit on extra content, it offers engrossing mechanics and it is a fantastic audio/visual experience. – Damiano Gerli