While I have always had a strong interest in Roguelites, there is always one thing keeping me away from the genre, and that is their reputation for being extremely difficult. When I think of sitting back after a long day of hard work, the last thing that is on my mind is the desire to bump my head into a wall over and over. Thankfully, Lone Ruin does a wonderful job of making you feel like you can nail it on the next run. I found myself dying a lot, but each death only pushed me to try again one more time.
One of Lone Ruin’s biggest downfalls happens to be the little bit of story that is given to you. From my understanding, The main character is an explorer who is looking for an ancient power that seems to dwell within the ruins we are exploring. With other Roguelites such as Hades and Dead Cells giving a strong and compelling story to push you through the levels, This adventure is driven by the desire to do better on the next run. Thankfully, the gameplay does a wonderful job in regard to picking up the ball that is dropped by the lack of a strong narrative.
The main menu gives us a multitude of options before we start the run. There are increasing levels of difficulty options for the main mode, which reward you with cloaks that have different abilities at the end of the ruin. With 16 difficult levels to go through, having a reward at the end that might make the run a little easier. I personally loved the cloak of swiftness at the beginning of the game. It gives you the ability to move faster as well as an extra dash to get out of harm’s way. This was extremely beneficial in the early hours of the game while I was learning enemy patterns. Since each run ramps the difficulty up by adding things such as enemy AoE attacks on death and greater enemy melee range, picking the wrong cloak for your playstyle can set you up for failure before the run even begins.
The start of a run has you picking a basic spell to use in the upcoming challenges. There is a wide variety of weapons that play out differently. There is a scythe that acts as a melee attack, a projectile that can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger, a fireball that creates pools of fire that damages enemies, as well as a few others. After you clear each room, there are two paths given to you to progress. Occasionally these rooms lead to shops where you can spend the money that has accumulated in your pocket as you’ve taken out enemies, but more often than not, they lead to another room full of challenge and a comfy reward at the end.
Each reward can change the way your weapons fire or may give you a whole different weapon to use alongside your starting choice. My favorite setups included a power up that allowed me to shoot in front and behind me at the same time, as well as an ability to throw out a ball that pulled enemies into a group. This let me focus fire in one area while keeping myself out of harm’s way by minimizing the distance between enemies. Since the projectiles they fire come out in different waves and patterns, being able to hold them all in one spot forces them to focus fire in one direction.
Each run has a series of rooms you can pass through, and there is a boss at the end of each long string of rooms. The first boss you’ll face does a good job of testing your skills and abilities that you’ve picked up in the beginning rooms. Seeing the boss fall made me feel a strong sense of accomplishment. I might have fallen in the next room, there was this strong confidence that had been built up, knowing that I have the skill to defeat this roadblock.
Lone Ruin is a wonderful way to test the waters when it comes to rougelites. The twin stick combat feels nice and snappy, with fluid movements from both the character along with the enemies. The simple control scheme and easy to ready UI keeps the screen free of unnecessary clutter. This is definitely one that I can recommend for both those looking to get into the genre or veterans looking for something new to experience.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Increasing difficulty levels makes player skill progression feel meaningful.
- Controls and combat snaps and feels fluid when things get hectic
- a lack of a strong narrative may be off-putting for those who are drawn in by those aspects
Xavier grew up playing classics like Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and Silent Hill, so the indie scene has been full of love letters for him.
A perfect day for him includes hours of grinding out levels and exploring creepy hallways in scary games.