Lone Ruin is the latest in rogue-likes from the indie game scene. Each run begins at the same place, with the same options for starting weapons, and nothing upgrades between runs. A rogue-like in the truest sense.
While it’s not bringing anything particularly new to the format, we must ask if it is good at what it’s setting out to be.
It certainly is a game with my own tastes in aesthetic, that being the glowing hues of purple and green that give that low-fi feel. All very soothing, perfect for playing in darkened rooms on my Switch.
The issue that does come with this is sometimes the enemies are ill-defined from their backgrounds. Nothing that has proved much of a problem in my time with it, but it would be good to have a clearer look at what you’re fighting against.
To accompany your battle, you get a fitting EDM soundtrack, starting off as a relaxed beat and building to an exciting dance party. Frankly, if they had gone with a low-fi hip-hop beat soundtrack I’d have eaten it up and been demanding the vinyl pressing, but the relaxing vibe certainly would have been off because…
The Game Play
It’s hard as nails. Death is an expected outcome from any rogue-like, it’s meant to be played again and again. But I had this on the easiest mode available and only made it to the first boss fight once.
Now, this isn’t a negative to people who live rogue-likes. I know a member of my team here at Robot Republic who’d have completed this game already and be demanding a harder mode. But for me, I’d love there to be a ‘chill’ mode. One I can relax and enjoy the pretty colours and music with some forgiving combat. Maybe something that can be thrown in just for me later, call it Cally the Cowards mode.
As for actual game types, there are two, the story, and survival. The story isn’t really forefront, but it’s certainly a progression of levels. With boosts and modifiers at each new stage. I assume there are boss battles throughout, but as previously mentioned, I only made it to the first one. With no way to level up between runs, it would be unlikely for me to see any more of them. Which is a shame, as the tree monster I fought was a great-looking design.
The starting animation while skippable does feel repetitive rather quickly. Skipping requires holding down a button for a few seconds so you will be seeing those first few moments a lot.
The survival mode turned out to be my preferred. Perfect for a quick play without the sense of failure of not getting through many levels.
There is a leaderboard, which unfortunately stopped working for me during pre-release, a shame as for one glorious moment I was the 7th best player of a video game in the world! Out of the total 7 who had accessed the still unreleased game at the time anyway…
But it certainly is a fun feature to be core to the game, being offered to submit a score at every death. I can only imagine the ridiculous scores rogue-like players will rack up on this.
When starting you are offered a good set of weapons. All with distinct attacks. This allowed me to try out a few different play styles, and even though I was repeating the same run, it felt fresh with each choice. Into the levels, you can pick up a second weapon, and I believe more later, which once you get the hang of remembering you have it, makes combat satisfying.
Overall, I had a good time with Lone Ruin, it’s certainly one I’ll be diving back into for short-game fixes. But can see the true potential lies in the hands of those who can complete Hades or the Binding of Isaac. It’s got a great style, good music, and fun weapons. I will hold out hope for a super casual mode to be added for players like me. And ideally, a way to level up between runs, to turn this rogue-like into rogue-lite, to give it more appeal to the less hardcore.
Check out the trailer here:
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