Review – Lone Ruin

I have a massive amount of love for roguelite games, I can’t help it. That’s even more apparent on the Switch, where it becomes so easy to pick up and play a game for 20-30 minutes when you have time without needing to turn on a TV and boot everything else up. Lone Ruin looked right up my alley then, being an isometric roguelite similar to that of Hades. This is the kind of game I’ve been looking for lately, having done everything there is to do in Hades at this point and waiting for the sequel, even if it’s just coming out in early access at first. So with that, off we went into the dark world of Lone Ruin.

Inflation is killing me.

Lone Ruin, as mentioned already, is an isometric roguelite with a variety of builds. Every time you start a run you’ll be given a variety of options for what kind of weapon you’d want to use, with a few of them coming with bonuses each run. Weapons can be as simple as what is essentially a sword or a bow, to sending a black hole to pull enemies in. After each room you clear, you’ll have a pick of two separate rooms to go to with different rewards, whether it be a room with an upgrade to your weapon, a new second weapon, or a dash upgrade. You can also get gold rewards, or a shop to buy upgrades and new weapons at. This seems quite familiar. Oh, and each floor ends with a boss that’s the same in each new run.

Would you please stop trying to hide in the grass?

The AI in Lone Ruin doesn’t exactly feel “smart.” The enemies seem quite aimless unless you decide to make it abundantly clear and walk up to them like “hey, I’m here to kill you, come fight me, prepare to die.” This brings me to the point that the black hole weapon feels very broken, as you can pull almost all enemies into it and have it pull them across the room; it’s a very good AOE to deal with any small annoying enemies. This makes it really easy to tackle any tougher enemy in the room that is made infinitely easier without having others around to cause problems.

Are you The Gardener or The Gardened?

The visuals of Lone Ruin aren’t too bad. The graphics reminded me a lot of One Step From Eden in a way. The art is slightly pixelated, which helps hide any flaws in details in a lot of places, but with how dark the game is, there are some points that feel unfair as the enemies sometimes blend in with the darkness. I’m also curious if the creator just really likes purple/reddish-purple, or if that was their favourite colour and the decision was subconscious, because it is such a prevalent colour throughout the game, to the point of feeling exhaustive after a while.

Beat a boss, descend further, it all looks the same.

Room to room, Lone Ruin doesn’t add much atmosphere with the music. With how dark and dingy the ruins are, the music should match that cold, eerie feeling, but instead there isn’t much atmosphere to be built at all. Essentially, you boot up the game and just go, no world building with dialogue either voice acted or to be read at all. I have no issue with games not spoon feeding you lore, I am a Dark Souls fan after all, but at least use the music to help build the sort of atmosphere and tension I should be feeling in a battle for my life in the dark.

Lone Ruin is the type of isometric dungeon crawler I have been looking for, and if I ignore the flaws and choose to make the game harder for myself by not picking what is so clearly overpowered, it’s quite fun. There could definitely be some balancing with the weapons, and bosses, as the bosses can feel like way more of a challenge than any of the enemies depending on your setup. That said though, it’s a very okay game with a lot of potential so maybe in the future with a few balance patches, it could stand on its own two feet for Hades fans waiting for the second game.

Graphics: 6.0

Lone Ruin doesn’t look bad by any means, but this type of pixel art style really needs a lighter colour pallet to make the most of it, otherwise so much is lost in the darkness.

Gameplay: 6.5

Lone Ruin plays mostly like how you would hope. There are definitely some balances needed in some weapons to stop you from going for the same build every run, and some of the bosses, but it’s still a fun game.

Sound: 4.0

The sound effects and music aren’t exactly offensive, but they’re too safe. There’s no real attempt to build the atmosphere and tension, so you can’t exactly fail at doing so. That said, it is definitely something that Lone Ruin needed was more memorable music.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Lone Ruin can be a fair bit of fun. It’s definitely perfect for the Switch as a pick up and play type game where runs generally don’t last overly long. It would definitely warrant picking up if you’re a fan of isometric roguelites.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Lone Ruin is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Lone Ruin was provided by the publisher.