n-Space first showed up on many gamers’ radar with the release of Geist, an inventive Gamecube FPS where gamers assumed the role of a ghost with the ability to possess just about everything, from heavily armed soldiers to insignificant rodent. As creative as the idea was, the game didn’t quite meet expectations but it was still a solid title that earned the attention received on sheer creativity.
Since then, n-Space has been grinding away, releasing Activision’s annual DS entry to its massive Call of Duty franchise. While none of these releases have set the world on fire, each has been better than the last with more refined gameplay and more ambitious scope. Thankfully, n-Space has stepped out from under the CoD shadow with Heroes of Ruin, a new IP being released by Square Enix.
Based on the demo, Heroes of Ruin looks to fall in line with n-Space’s tradition of creating solid but not quite amazing games. To be as clear as possible, this really isn’t meant as a major knock against the game, which is actually quite enjoyable, but rather just be a rather blunt observation of the truth. Heroes of Ruin is a solid dungeon hack featuring exactly what you expect from the genre: multiple character classes, mountains of diverse loot, and co-op play.
When it comes to classes, Heroes of Ruin sports four for your choosing. These classes, the Alchitect, Gunslinger, Savage, and Vindicator, definitely resemble the genres usual cast of magic users, tanks, ranged fighters and so on, but n-Space has tweaked the formula to add a bit of their own flavor. The demo only features the Gunslinger, and while he definitely fits the bill as the ranged fighter of the group, the twin blades he wields at close range offer a nice, thief like twist and his bomb based special attacks are just cool. The relative brevity of the demo unfortunately didn’t give me the chance to play around with skill trees and levelling up, but what was there looked more than sufficient.
And then there is loot, which Heroes of Ruin has covered expertly. During my short jaunt through the demo’s creepy forest, the spiders and skeletons I killed, as well as the vases and flowers I smashed open, were more than happy to part with copious amounts of weapons, armor, potions and gold. I even stumbled off the beaten path a little bit to discovery a literal treasure trove filled plenty of the aforementioned goodies. And collecting loot is where this game has really stepped up and delivered some very welcome innovations; potions and gold are automatically picked up while armor and weapons can be picked up with L, or by pressing up on the D-Pad you can auto equip it while down will instantly sell it off. Kiss the boredom of inventory management goodbye.
Tragically, the demo lacked the option to partake in the four player co-op promised by the developer, but assuming it functions without any major hitches I could see this being a addictive group game much like Borderlandswas for 360 and PS3 owners, and Diablo on PC.
Of course all the genre staples would be meaningless without the solid foundation of competent gameplay and this is yet another area where you need not worry. The concept is straightforward enough, kill and collect your way from one end of the level to the other, kill a boss and repeat, but the game does a great job of balancing challenging combat with a relatively forgiving checkpoint system. Every time I died I learned from my mistakes, figured out how to better utilize my skills and hugely useful combat roll, and made my way back to my adversary to best them. I never once grew frustrated and never became bored either. So in other words, I guess I was enjoying myself.
With every 3DS game we must discuss how the game looks, and Heroes of Ruin was actually a pleasant surprise. Looking at the textures and character models, the game doesn’t really take full advantage of the handheld’s processing power, but with 3D turned up it really manages to pop. With the overhead foliage occasionally passing by overhead and the lone ray of light shining through the canopy, 3D really makes a rather uninspired world quite eye catching.
I was tentatively looking forward to getting my hands on Heroes of Ruin but now I can confidently say this game has potential. The core gameplay seems to work fine, the visuals make good use of 3D, and its loot system is wonderfully refined. Now we just need to wait and see how this all translates across the rest of the classes, a full games worth of content, and four person co-op. Assuming it handles all that admirably, Heroes of Ruin could be a great option for handheld dungeon hacking.