As a new gamer, one thing I struggle with when reviewing a game is whether I’m bad at it (for whatever reason) or if the game itself is poorly designed. I can tell when aspects of the game are good – like the controls are easy to understand or if it’s aesthetically appealing…But I can’t tell whether a game is objectively terrible.
I know all games take a bit of time to figure out – but I’m not sure how long I should give a video game before I give up on it.
Is it 30 minutes? 2 hours? 5 hours? Am I obligated to finish a game before writing a review? I certainly hope it’s not the latter – because I definitely didn’t come close to completing it. I don’t have the time!
The reason I bring this up is that I am legitimately stumped on how to rate Ruin Raiders. The game, which was just released on Steam, for PC and consoles, Ruin Raiders’ summary describes itself as an “anthropomorphic turn-based tactical roguelike.”
And to be honest, I don’t really get what half of those words mean in this context. For some reason, based on the design and my limited knowledge of the medium – I thought the game was going to be like Sly Cooper.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Ruin Raiders’ is one of those games where the map layout changes every time you start a new game. Which is cool. It adds an interesting challenge to the game and keeps the runs from getting too boring – as treasure chests, villains, important buttons, and oddly enough, a random giraffe who runs the game’s shop, are in new places each time.
The goal of the game is for your team to delve into these ever-changing ruins and bring back resources for your team, including the game’s currency, entium. The currency can be used to buy supplies, weapon upgrades, and medkits – all of which are necessary but the lack of an actual goal in the game seems far off.
While you’re collecting resources, you can also find weapons blueprints as well as bits of the lore. Perhaps the lore gets interesting at some point, but I didn’t find that it added anything to the gaming experience.
I like having different options for the characters I can play as. I may hate making decisions in real life – and I struggle to tell what strengths I want in a video game character but that doesn’t mean don’t like having options at all.
Even if, I do end up picking characters based on what they look like.
This isn’t really an effective strategy in Ruin Raiders as there really aren’t any interesting-looking characters. Although you have a team of three – you’re only given three different kinds of characters to play with at the start: dogs, rhinos, and birds.
At a certain point, which I did not reach, you can unlock three new classes: cat, walrus, and salamander. Each species has its own strength – and it doesn’t change from character to character all that much, if at all.
So – you can have a team full of three dogs – with the only real difference being their names and their fur pattern. It’s kind of boring. It’s not like you’re choosing between a Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua. It doesn’t make a difference which dog you pick – they’re all the same.
If the characters had actual personalities, I might be able to muster some kind of enthusiasm – but they just share the same few bits of dialogue that don’t add anything to the story depending on their position.
It makes feels like the characters don’t matter. I’m not attached to them, so I honestly don’t feel anything much when they’re put in danger.
RULES? WHAT RULES?
The way the game works is…still kind of unclear to me. I’m pretty sure it’s my lack of experience with this genre because even with the tips from the game itself, I still struggled.
I didn’t really understand how the different zones – one for walking and one for running – affected my team. At least, it was easy to tell how much damage my characters were taking – but everything else just seemed slightly more complicated than it needed to be.
For example, when I wanted to equip a medkit or replace a weapon, it felt like I had to go through a six-step process every time. It just felt time-consuming.
I’m fine with a game that requires a complex strategy, a skill I struggle with, but all the different button combinations for simple tasks was just too much.
And since the battles get harder as the game goes along (as they should), it gets harder to pick up on those combinations. But I can’t see the fights getting any more interesting, even with the possibility of new NPCs and bosses being introduced.
But because the mission is so vague, and it takes a while to collect enough entium to actually do anything worthwhile, there’s no motivation for me to continue playing.
The weird rules and cartoony visuals reminded me more of an iPhone game than a console game. Maybe had I played this game on a PC, my experience would have been different. (I don’t know. I don’t have a PC.)
Or maybe, tactical roguelike games, in general, just aren’t my thing.
Overall, Ruin Raiders very much is NOT a game for me. I wouldn’t pay money for this game, and unless you’re very into “roguelike” gameplay, you probably shouldn’t either.