When I first heard about Heroes of Ruin, my interest was immediately piqued. Here, we were promised a role-playing experience built exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, not only set to encapsulate the unique functionality of the handheld, but also granting co-operative four-player both locally and worldwide through Nintendo Network.
The concept was like a tantalising dream. So, I’m grateful, therefore, that the clear talent at n-Space have once again shone through, delivering a potently addictive dungeon-crawler with an expansive world that many are sure to enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of.
It is at a point following a war that has raged for hundreds of years at which the player enters Heroes of Ruin. Powerful Ruin Lords had emerged from the fighting, establishing a fragile peace across the lands and each creating a city of their own. Such a hard fought peace is soon threatened, however, when Lord Ataraxis, ruler of the city of Nexus and the strongest of the Ruin Lords, falls ill to a deadly curse. A call is issued by the King of Nexus, promising wealth and rewards beyond measure to anyone that locates a cure, and that’s precisely when you come into play.
You must first create your own mercenary, the basis of which built upon one of four differing classes; Alchitect, Gunslinger, Savage or Vindicator. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, the Alchitect and Gunslinger able to tackle foes from afar with either spells or dual-pistols respectively, whereas the Savage and Vindicator prefer to skew their enemies up close and personal.
Character customisation options are regrettably limited to just four categories, across skin tone, hair style, hair colour, and overall player colour, although these proved to be suitable enough to differentiate and personalise your own adventurers alongside friends and global co-operative partners.
Having decided as to whether a Mystic Blue skin tone makes you look too much like someone straight out of James Cameron’s Avatar, you soon plummet straight into your quest. Setting sail for Nexus your ship is soon beset upon by a monstrous Leviathan, and the isle that you find yourself marooned on provides a tutorial overview of the game’s varying mechanics.
Whenever you choose to play Heroes of Ruin, you must first determine which type of game session that you’d like to create. These encompass Solo Play, Local Play, Online – Friends Only, and Online – Worldwide, as well as further specifying how large the party size can be. Having incorporate drop-in/drop-out co-operative play this caters to all player types, opening up the opportunity for additional adventurers to join as you continue to progress on your quest.
The inclusion of push-to-talk voice chat is also a welcome feature, triggered by holding the L Button, although headphones are much recommended for audial clarity. Playing with friends also grants the chance to build a ‘Your Alliance’ level, although the benefits of this, if any, remain unclear.
Quests revolve around the usual fare, with the player frequently tasked with eliminating certain types of enemy, sourcing materials, or freeing stranded prisoners. These are interspersed with the core narrative progression, enabling the player to receive experience, weapons, armour and items that aid you along the way.
Levelling your character proves essential, as can be expected, rewarding the player with the opportunity to unlock abilities when their relevant level requirements are met. These are mapped to the A, X and Y buttons, alongside which B remains your basic attack – a charge attack also a necessity to break an enemy’s block – and can be further enhanced as you reach continually higher levels. Such abilities are themselves divided into three skill trees, the Gunslinger’s being Saboteur, Wildcard and Commando, ranging between offensive and defensive actions. Whilst most will choose those that best suit their individual gameplay style, these add a greater level of depth to combat that feels both rewarding and welcome.
Enticing regular play is the readily issued Daily and Weekly Challenges, tasking players with killing a certain amount of enemies within a time limit, completing certain levels, or neutralising a set number of foes without taking damage, for instance. Successful completion grants points that may be spent to purchase Valor Relics at a special store in Nexus, in turn providing lucrative rewards that prove a significant contribution to the continual growth of your character.
This Trader’s Network is also supported through StreetPass, where fellow players that you pass will receive some of the strongest equipment that you’ve gathered on your journey so far. SpotPass, too, features, at times rewarding you with new items.
If there are factors in which Heroes of Ruin disappoints, these fail to fell the overall experience. Menus are far from intuitive, most icons unlabelled and left to the player’s regular use to garner what each relates to.
Online play, whilst relatively free from connection issues across the Nintendo Network, hasn’t been considered as well as first appears. Loot, which frequently drops once your foes have been bested, can be freely grabbed by whichever player reaches it first.
I would’ve preferred a system in which it was shared equally among players, think World of Warcraft, ensuring that we’d feel far more encouraged to play online – especially when working with random players.
However, such problems don’t detract from a game that stands tall as one of the most noteworthy contributions to the Nintendo 3DS’ ever-expanding software library. Heroes of Ruin is a handheld adventure certainly worth partaking in, and one that becomes ever the more enjoyable with friends alongside you. If this provides an early glimpse at the social interactive potential of Nintendo’s handheld, colour us excited indeed.