’Ruin’ being the operative word here...
Posted 8 months ago By Vince - Vincent Deshaies
The last twelve months have once again been kind to Western RPG gamers. With much-anticipated titles such as Diablo III, Skyrim, and Mass Effect 3 making their way to our home consoles and PCs, only handheld players seemed a bit left out. Diablo aficionados and all action-RPG fans out there may have been holding off their 3DS purchase in hopes that this latest effort from Square Enix would be worth their time, but is Heroes of Ruin a true dungeon-crawling delight? Let’s find out!
HoR follows a classic narrative that involves a hero going on a quest to find a cure for a sphinx named Ataraxis, the ruler of the city of Nexus who has been plagued by a powerful curse. What sounded like an easy task quickly becomes more complicated when our hero’s ship gets attacked and sunk by the Leviathan, a strange and deadly monster. After the accident, the focus of the quest is quickly readjusted to finding a way back to Nexus.
"At the end of the day, HoR simply doesn’t live up to its potential."
While a simple and predictable story sometimes works better than a complex one, it seems to fall a bit flat here. The tale is mainly told through barely-animated cutscenes in between gameplay sections, and through conversations you have with the various NPCs. The problem is that most simple and classic stories usually throw their own twists into the mix to freshen up the experience and make it more memorable. That is barely the case here. Conversations with NPCs are dull and fairly useless, the cutscenes failed to hold my attention by sticking to conventions, and everything about the story is simply too generic to make any sort of impact.
The gameplay here is also as generic as it gets. You choose between 4 classes of characters that don’t differentiate themselves enough to really be relevant, you easily bash through hordes of enemies that aren’t varied enough, you collect gold and items to manage your inventory, and you easily complete any task assigned to you. There isn’t much variety in these tasks. In fact, most of them involve either collecting objects and bringing them back to whoever needed them, or simply getting from point A to point B. The controls work well and are very responsive, the inventory system is easy to master with every important detail being easy to access at all times on the bottom touch screen. Because of that, the whole experience ends up feeling fairly intuitive. However, one of the main problems with Heroes of Ruin is that the quest is far too easy. Potions are everywhere, enemies are extremely weak, and the leveling system is too generous. On top of that, enemy A.I. is absolutely atrocious. Foes often decided to walk away and stop attacking me while I was slashing through them! Despite how streamlined the inventory system is, it still has some flaws that are simply unacceptable in this kind of game. For example, your character can only carry a limited combined amount of gold and equipment, but the player cannot drop any of the gold! This simple omission resulted in strange moments where I had to buy items I didn’t want only to get rid of them seconds later. The combat system is functional, but boring. Most of the time, you’ll find that bashing the B button will get you through any tricky situation, which is disappointing given that combat is at the heart of the game.
On another note, players are also likely to get annoyed at the often poor design decisions made by the developers. I often found myself lost, not knowing where to go next and bumping into some of the numerous invisible walls. Being stuck because of a puzzle or a difficult challenge is okay, but not knowing where to go after successfully completing a mission due to poor level-design isn’t. Heroes of Ruin features many side-quests that are essentially the same kind of missions offered by the regular campaign. Those certainly help make the game a little longer, considering that it’ll take you anywhere between 7 to 10 hours to complete the main quest, which isn’t much for this type of game.
The whole adventure can be played cooperatively with up to three other players online, and you seem to be encouraged to do so. Despite that, I never at any point felt like the game was designed for multiple players. While the experience is lag-free, and can be fun for people who want to play with friends, the servers are simply deserted and I had to make several attempts to finally get into a game. Once you do manage to join a game, though, you’ll find that the online features are quite great for a handheld title. There is fully functional voice chat which can be activated by simply holding the L button, the menus are well put together and you can drop in and out of a game at any time. Given its potential, it’s really a shame that the multiplayer doesn’t add anything to the experience. Overall, people who are looking for a truly deep multiplayer session aren’t going to find it here.
The presentation of the game is all over the place. Textures are blurry and pixelated, character models look like they’re from the PS1 era, and animations are stiff and riddled with strange glitches. At its best, the game looks like a first-generation PSP game. At its worst, it looks as aged as an early PS1 title. The poor graphics wouldn’t be such a big deal if the actual artistic design had any kind of appeal, but everything is generic looking and the various environments look like easy copy and paste jobs. The visual aspect gains a bit more clarity when the 3D effect is turned off, but that would arguably be sacrificing its only strong point in terms of presentation. The 3D effect actually looks stunning. The sense of depth is one of the only things that bring a hint of immersion to the game, and some of the effects become truly impressive on the handheld’s screen. The sound design is fairly good - the sound effects are convincing enough - but the music simply doesn’t help elevate any of the game’s sequences to another level. You won’t find yourself humming any of the tunes in this one.
At the end of the day, HoR simply doesn’t live up to its potential. When Square Enix first announced that the 3DS would be getting a Hack and Slash RPG from them, I was excited to try it out. Having that type of game on the 3DS sounded like a really good idea on paper, but it unfortunately turned out to be a bitter disappointment. Gamers who, like me, were eager to try out this experience may want to pass on it and wait for something a little more worthwhile.
+ Intuitive controls
- Poor graphics
- Lazy game design
- Incredibly generic
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Release Date : 2012/07/17
System : Nintendo 3DS
Publisher : Square Enix
Developer : n-Space
Category : Action-RPG
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10