Review – RUINER (Switch)

RUINER was one of the few games unveiled at Devolver Digital’s inaugural E3 press conference back in 2017, alongside the pretty good, but ultimately forgotten, Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour. Our colleague, Jason, reviewed it back in the day and called it challenging and nostalgic, albeit too short. I’m going to be honest and confess that I’ve eventually forgotten about RUINER‘s existence shortly after its debut. It was a game released shortly before Devolver’s monstrous streak of fantastic games in 2018, with little promotion or fanfare.

It took Devolver and developer Reikon Games almost three years to finally release RUINER on the Switch, an ideal platform for short yet replayable twin-stick arcade shooters. It’s time to find out if it was worth the wait.

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I’m more of a green person…

As previously mentioned in Jason’s review, RUINER is a twin-stick shooter in which you control a cyberpunk “Red Hood” wannabe. You’re initially tasked with killing the CEO of a company called Heaven, but once you complete your objective, you’ll see yourself entangled in a much more personal revenge story. It’s not exactly a game that features engaging storytelling, with its plot being little else than an excuse for you to kill everyone in sight. The gameplay is its main focus, and sadly, it features some issues.

The main issue regarding RUINER‘s gameplay on Switch is the overall lack of precision offered by the Joy-Cons’ analog sticks. This is an issue I keep mentioning whenever I review a first-person shooter on the system, but most of these games feature gyro aiming in order to mitigate those hindrances. RUINER, being an isometric shooter, can’t take advantage of motion controls. Precise aiming is absolutely necessary in a game as challenging as this one, especially considering how small your enemies’ hitboxes are. The Joy-Cons, as well as the occasionally flimsy framerate, really don’t help in this regard.

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The Joy-Cons’ analog sticks aren’t as precise as they need to be for a game like this, but you can always grab an explosive weapon and just blast everyone in sight without a care in the world.

RUINER‘s presentation didn’t suffer as many setbacks, but it does retain some of the issues featured in the original 2017 release. The visuals are decent, with a striking cyberpunk art style and an almost stable 30fps framerate. Lighting effects have been slightly reduced in order to cope with the Switch’s less powerful hardware, but there’s still an excessive amount of red lights that constantly transform the entire screen in a big, borderline blinding red blur. The soundtrack is the exact same as before. It’s a collection of hard-hitting industrial beats that are a perfect fit for the game’s brutally unfriendly cyberpunk setting. It’s a bit repetitive, though.

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I pity the janitor. I really do.

In short, I can only recommend the Switch version of RUINER to die-hard twin-stick shooter fans. It’s still a stupidly challenging but entertaining title, and its chaotic, arcade-like nature is a good fit for a portable system, but the Switch’s controller options just don’t offer the precision a game like this needs in order to become truly enjoyable. This is most certainly best enjoyed with a mouse and keyboard, so I’d recommend grabbing the PC version instead. It’s almost three years old at the time of the writing of this review, so you can probably grab it for dirt cheap.

 

Graphics: 7.5

It looks really good in both portable and docked modes, and the framerate is stable, for the most part, but the game does feature an excessive amount of flashing lights and a color palette comprised of red, red, red, and more red.

Gameplay: 7.0

RUINER‘s controls are easy to grasp, but its twin-stick aiming isn’t as responsive as it should, especially with the Switch’s Joy-Cons.

Sound: 8.0

There isn’t a lot of variety in the soundtrack, as it’s mostly comprised of hard-hitting industrial beats, but they do fit perfectly with the game’s art style and setting.

Fun Factor: 7.0

A very challenging and often entertaining twin-stick shooter that doesn’t live up to the quality of the original PC version, due to some control issues.

Final Verdict: 7.0

RUINER is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of RUINER was provided by the publisher.