Sometimes when you least expect it a game comes along that hits all of your buttons – anime inspired visuals, hard garage electronica soundtrack, gameplay that evokes the classic Crusader titles, and action that is as non-stop as it is addictive. That game was a title at PAX East called Ruiner from developer Reikon Games, a hard cyberpunk action title that had my blood pumping from the moment the demo started.
Ruiner is a game centered around a killer that is manipulated by a control helmet; he is hacked by a secretive fugitive and sent on a mission to rescue a kidnapped brother and dismantle the HEAVEN corporation that used to control him. Much like the Crusader series from the 90’s, Ruiner is an isometric action game where you play a supremely capable killing machine as he battles his way through the futuristic city of Rengkok. Ruiner is very action heavy but there are exploration and narrative segments as you travel through the city looking for leads and missions. The city evokes the greatest aspects of Blade Runner futuristic landscapes and brought to mind environments famed Cyberpunk author William Gibson described in his novels. The art style is truly striking and the neon soaked environments coupled with overlayed cues and graphics drew me into the game instantly.
Ruiners controls in the demo were strictly keyboard and mouse with controller support being prepped for the full release. I was glad to hear that as I felt the fast, dynamic, and complex action was tough to control using the keyboard controls. In Ruiner you have a large amount of abilities and tactical options at your disposal. For attacks you can choose to use melee attacks (with evolving choices for your weapon), various guns you collect as you play through the game, and a shield you can deploy that can also double as battering ram when you dash at enemies. The dash is also a crucial tactic as it gets you out of tight spots, but also enables you to use the shield as mentioned as a devastating weapon when you dash at enemies while equipped.
These options do not sound like much, but the game is incredibly fast paced and enemies are coming in from all sides; the control schema has you moving around with WASD controls and aiming/attacking with the mouse as people rush you from all sides. Guns you pick up have limited ammo and your energy reserves powering the shield can also run out; this causes a desperate game of cat and mouse as you move and dash all over the screen dispatching enemies with bashes, gunfire and melee attacks with reckless abandon. It took a while to get the hang of the controls, all the while wishing I had a
game controller as an option, before I finally got in a groove and started moving through enemies like the killing machine my character truly was. The gameplay, visuals, music, and on screen dystopian cues all pulled together in a way that was as fun as it was addictive.
While the demo was timed at PAX East it was obvious that there is a lot to Ruiner; in the short snippet I played it was apparent the character you play is a puppet that is slowly ditching his strings and that there is a great deal to the world that will be discovered as you play through the story. The all controlling corporation, hackers revolting against them, a futuristic city on the point of blowing apart at the seams, and your character seemingly at the center of the storm. I can’t repeat enough how strong the visual and aural design is in this game as it and how much that strengthens the experience, this is playable hard cyberpunk Anime full of over the top violence, adrenaline inducing music and gameplay that is deep and satisfying. Ruiner is scheduled to be released on PC this summer and is a game I will be eager to jump back into to see if the full release delivers on its strong first impressions.