July 6, 2012

Impressions: Heroes of Ruin

If I could describe my experience with Heroes of Ruin in two words, it would be "pretty good". Heroes of Ruin won't revolutionize dungeon crawlers forever, but that doesn't mean it's not pretty good. The game has four character classes, and so is tailored for four-player co-op. The demo let me try out the warrior (lion man) and the ranger (hood man). I assume the other classes are a tank and some sort of mage. Anyway, since it's inevitable to compare this to similar games, Heroes of Ruin is definitely better than the last dungeon crawler I played. Nope, not Diablo 3. Crimson Alliance on the Xbox Arcade. Compared to that, this is amazing. It's a much deeper, more traditional dungeon crawl experience, only handheld. And it is indeed fully featured, with both local and online play with voice chat. 

|How's it play?| The game uses both the circle pad and the dpad, which I found took some getting used to because you can't use the cpad at all for menus, although you can use the touch screen for that which helps a lot with inventory management. The B button executes you basic character class attack (ie, sword slice) either normally or charged up, and you can map other abilities to the remaining three buttons. Left shoulder is interact and right shoulder is block/dodge. The controls work just fine. Speaking of the dpad, though, nSpace has made some truly appreciated changes to the formula. When not in menus, you can hit left to use a health potion and right to use a mana potion. "But Torchlight did that!" you may object. Yes, but here's something Torchlight didn't do. When standing over a piece of loot, not only will the game tell you whether it's better than what you have equipped, it allows you to automatically equip it by pressing up on the dpad. But that's not all! If you press down you'll instantly sell it! Why doesn't ever RPG have this!? And speaking of that, you can sell anything at any time through the inventory menu! It's the little things that pleased me most about this game.

But you probably want to know how it plays, don't you? Well, it plays how you'd expect it to. Top down, kill everything. One possible flaw of having the game on a handheld is that it feels cramped. I had to zoom out all the way because the overhead camera was making me feel claustrophobic for some reason. I can see the 3DS XL helping with this issue. Anyway, gameplay. I played the warrior first because he's a Lion. Now, maybe it was because I accidentally stumbled upon the boss right away and ended the demo early, but I found him to be... weak and uninteresting. If I had leveled a bit and had a better sword, things might have been different. Lion man's specials included a charge that stunned enemies and a power slice that did extra damage. It's worth noting that these attacks use mana (or whatever it's called in this game) that recharges over time. I also noticed that the health bar had this weird fighting game kind of mentality to it where you'd "damage" that would refill if you were left alone for a while (health doesn't normally refill).

Then I played the ranger and knew where not to go. So I went everywhere else, completed all the quests, found some epic gear, and reached level four. The ranger was awesome. He uses twin pistols with blades on them so he automatically has both close and far range attacks. His default specials were "shoot everything in an ark for a few seconds" and "roll out of danger while throwing a bomb into enemies". Both very helpful. I also unlocked an ability that allows you to inflict a random status ailment on your enemies when you hit them and another passive skill that increased my speed and critical hit chance after defeating an enemy. I defeated the boss swiftly with this guy.

|Other thoughts| I must say, I found the voice acting to be hilariously awesome. Not because it was bad, just because the character voices were so fitting. Lion man sounded like a huge black dude, and ranger man was English. They spout little phrases here and there like "My vitality is restored!" which was so odd that I loved it. The music was alright. Didn't blow me away, but it wasn't bad. The dark woods were kind of a blah setting but, looking at the screen shots, the environments get a lot more varied (as do the enemies). In terms of the visuals, I found the 3D effect to be way too much up on full blast. Cranked down to the very bottom, though, it has a nice, subtle effect that sucked me in. Having said that, the visuals here aren't going to win any awards. Games like this always have low detail in the characters due to the overhead nature of the camera, but the environments are pretty blah looking too. It seems like they could have spent a little more time adding in detail of things we can see clearly. If games like Resident Evil, Mario, and Metal Gear can look great on the 3DS, I see no reason why this can't either.

|Should you keep and eye out?| Yes. I can see this really being enjoyable on long trips. Plus, you can play locally or online with anyone. Finally, the voice chat and drop in/drop out co-op are the icing on the cake.

Preorder from Amazon for $10 off and release day delivery!

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