I woke up and was not sure where I was, but I had a mission – Kill the Boss. That mission rolled through my head like an off key song stuck on a loop. Kill the Boss was all I could think of, all my body could process. As I travel through the corridors of Heaven looking for my target I find my first gun, the Ruiner, and that is what I will be, the Ruiner of lives.
As I progress through the flickering neon lights of the building, waves of goons challenge me, but I have no fear. Ruiner is cutting through their ranks as I dash and block their shots. I am powerful, I am unstoppable, but something is wrong, something is not right. I encounter a middleman, someone trying to stop me from reaching the Boss. I introduce him to Ruiner and he learns our name.
But there is something else in my head, something that blurs out the neon glow and throbbing music that surrounds me. A voice is calling to me, telling me to stop and to wake up. I ignore it; all that is important is to find the Boss and introduce him to Ruiner as well.
He is just beyond this door; all I have to do is unlock it. But that voice is stronger and is calling to me. My body ignores the screaming in my head and I reach for the lock. I can hear her clearly now: “Be free and wake up,” she says, and I am bombarded with energy as my arm is destroyed and my world becomes black.
She is the first voice I hear when I wake up and I feel a lightness I have not felt for a long time. I understand now that I was manipulated and my brother used against me. I am awake now and will never be asleep again, that is a promise to myself that will never waver. I will use her and anyone else who will help, I will find my brother and bring Ruin to all that stand in my way.
That is the story of Ruiner, an ultra-violent cyberpunk action game from Reikon Games and Devolver Digital. The atmosphere is deep enough to evoke the narrative portrayed above and the action is equally gripping as the game progresses.
Ruiner is a dark game that feels like it’s been pulled from legendary author William Gibson’s cyperpunk nightmares. The population are either docile citizens or savage gangs terrorizing those around them. In Ruiner the cities seem to be teeming with as much desperation as there are neon lights and security forces.
The game has a depth that is surprising considering its core mainly revolves around mowing down hordes of enemies and bosses. The skill system is pretty robust and can be customized and adjusted via a radial menu as the situation requires. There are also plenty of different melee and projectile weapons that can be acquired to cause as much devastation as possible.
There are some side tasks to be found, which add some completionist appeal, but they are generally just for Karma rewards. Karma is the currency in the game needed for upgrades, and finding Angels to hack or cyber-cats to interact with will feed that pile. These tasks are optional but are generally on the path the game takes you along, so worth doing.
In the end, though, what truly matters in Ruiner and what makes it so enjoyable is the sheer atmosphere of the game. The music is absolutely amazing and really syncs well with the action. The art-style is cyperpunk dystopian noir with neon and flickering lights setting the tone for each scene. The main protagonist is a hollow shell with little to no personality, but the world he inhabits speaks volumes. The action is fast and frantic with special skills like dash and shield keeping the pace high as enemies surround the character.
Ruiner is a terrific game that has a lot of components common to other action games but manages to make itself fresh and unique-feeling. The presentation, speed, atmosphere, music, and crazy story scenario are amazing to experience and frankly exhilarating.
This review was based on a PC build of the game. Ruiner is available right now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.