Ruin of Reckless is a Rogue-lite game where you play as one of two characters, Stargrove and Stella. You wake up in the Ruin of the Reckless, finding out you were alive, but are now dead, and that the ruin is now your prison. The only way out, is to reach the top of the tower, where you will be granted one wish. Sounds simple enough right? Well it’s not, the tower is full of spirits that will show you no mercy. It’s no easy task to accomplish which you will learn early on.
The game plays quite smooth. I personally played with a controller, so I cannot comment on how well the keyboard controls. You control movement with the left analog stick or dpad. You use the right stick to aim a reticle around the character which indicates where your attack will land. This is especially handy as you can move backwards while keeping your attacks facing forward when hordes of enemies are coming right at you. You attack using the right shoulder button, and use the right trigger to use spells. These spells can be in the forms of fire balls, or to making copies of yourself to join the fight. Pressing the left shoulder button allows you to use range attacks, which can come in the form of being able to tether and pull yourself to something or pull an enemy closer to you. Pulling the left trigger allows you to dash in any direction. Pressing it twice allows for a quick double dash. Other button mappings allow you to do things like talk to NPCs and use potions.
As the fighting fleshes out at first, you will probably get your ass handed to you. I think I died literally the moment I arrived at the first floor. Enemies are abundant and swarm around rarely giving you time to prepare. They sometimes have unpredictable attacks that take time to learn and read. There are times where hordes of racoons come at you from every angle, or black blob like things jump over and and stomp down. Some enemies shoot projectiles. Usually you are facing several enemy types at once. The further you progress, the enemies become more difficult and unorthodox.
Combat is very fun in Ruin of the Reckless being very fast paced and chaotic. At any given moment, several enemies can spawn around you, requiring you to fight your way through them just to stay alive. By using all your combined abilities, you will need to dash into the crowd and take them out with a combination of your melee attacks and spells, wiping out hordes of enemies, which is such a satisfying feeling. At first, it will be hard to get the hang of things, but as you play more and get more acquainted with the mechanics, pulling off these crazy stunts becomes second nature.
There are an abundant amount of methods you can use to engage your enemy. Some enemies you can run in and hack and slash endlessly while dodging attacks. Others require more precise timing. For example, there are black jelly fish like spirits that shoot projectiles. You can attack them head on, or wait patiently and once they fire, you can attack the projectile bouncing it back towards the enemy. This leads to a series of possible events, such as hitting the enemy, or several enemies, or having the enemy knocked back into other enemies dealing even more damage. This is usually a great way to control large crowds of enemies that would otherwise tear you apart if you ran in recklessly.
The spells at your disposal also provide a wealth of options. You can launch fire balls, or get upgrades that allow you to send shock waves through the ground, especially helpful for large crowds. Others allow you to create gravity bombs pulling surrounding enemies to towards the bomb, or even make copies of yourself. They are all designed to make taking on large groups of enemies easier. Although you have to be mindful of your spell uses, as you can use each spell book a certain number of times before it expires. However spell books are constantly dropped by enemies, so there will always be options should you be running low or are completely out.
Staying alive is the trickiest part. That is why the dash ability becomes very important. You will always need to multitask and be able to attack but also dodge attacks, such as enemies that stomp down on you. Others come at you fast and strike at you quickly, making dodging and getting in attacks a very tricky affair, but not impossible. With practice, you’ll learn ways to deal with each encounter as you play more. What adds great challenge and variety is that the game will constantly throw different enemy types at you at any given moment. So you’ll need to combine a wealth of offensive and defensive strategies to take our different combinations of enemies.
Dying in Ruin of the Reckless is very painful. This is because the game essentially resets each time you are taken down. You start from the first shop and lose all your items. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if you incrementally make progress and get further each time. It can be disheartening to have to go back through each floor again. This mechanic makes the game for a special type of player, one seeking a very hardcore challenge to reach to top. It definitely is not for a casual player simply looking to kill monsters, there is a lot of skill and precision needed to survive, and a lot of patience is needed. However, things just get more and more fun the further you get.
Thankfully, the game gets you back into the fray very quickly. With the press of a button, you spawn at the beginning or the first shop depending what you choose. At the shop, you retain some money, so you can buy some gear to spec yourself out a bit before jumping back into things. It gives you enough of a break before diving back into the onslaught.
Despite the game being difficult and unforgiving in many aspects, it does lend an arsenal of tools to make things easier. As you destroy enemies, you occasionally get loot. Through the loot, you can upgrade several pieces of your characters gear. You can equip different melee weapons, allowing you to hit harder and increase your reach. You can get different spell books that give you all sorts of different abilities, and lead to some big area of effect attacks. You occasionally get potions that can restore your health, and bring other benefits to. You can equip different boots, that allow you to do things like move faster, float, or dash further.
Other upgrades include items that boost stats or grant passive abilities. There are trinkets that can be dropped, which appear to lend some abilities such as a dodge ability that activates randomly, or others that send waves of lighting down on your enemies if you are hit. Orbs are also seen floating around, which can be consumed to grant buffs like extra health, or provide you with a pet that can attack enemies. You also gain experience each time you kill enemies or clear floors and can level up. At select points in the climb, you will encounter shops, which give you a random assortment of items to buy each time you visit. This can range from potions, to orbs to melee weapons and much more.
Despite all the gear the game gives you to help you through your climb, Ruin of the Reckless is still very difficult. I kept dying way to early and couldn’t even get past the second floor. One thing that would probably ease thing in Ruin of the Reckless, although I didn’t have anyone to partake with me, is the included co-op mode. A second player can join the climb and play as Stella. I’d imagine this would drastically make dealing with the abundant enemies much easier, however I can see it contributing to the chaos, as there would be many more things going on at any given time. Also, given that you can destroy orbs and deflect enemy projectiles that can damage your characters, I can see for some hectic times and some pretty funny deaths.
What truly helps ease things down is the card system. As you play, you unlock cards that grant a wide array of game altering conditions. You can use cards to set base equipment, or have cards that simply make each floor easier, or even harder. I think this is key for the newcomers to be able to make some kind of progress early on. Without the cards, I would be wiped out at the second floor, but as soon as I equipped the cards, I made it much further. The game was still very difficult, but felt more achievable this way. Good thing about cards, they carry over even after you die.
Knowing what everything does can be very tough, as the game keeps item descriptions quite vague. When you pick up items, or orbs, there is some text that briefly hovers indicating what you picked up, and a few words to say what the benefit is. This is more often seen in trinkets, because they lend passive abilities. Items are a bit better, as you can pick up boots, see the description, and when you dash, can clearly see the result and can now associate the benefit of that particular item. When you run into that items again, you will most likely remember the ability. Where as trinkets, and some orb functions aren’t as transparent, and even going around the level, nothing noticeable happens that indicate what it does. Combine that with hordes of enemies and all the multi tasking going it, it seems quite hard to determine these things sometimes. I don’t consider this a problem, just a challenge, as the game is built upon just trying things and and seeing what works. I kind of prefer this as it gives me more satisfaction upon discovering things.
Ruin of the Reckless visually looks good and is highly inspired by retro design. Animations are nice, colours are well used to give it a rugged but vibrant look. Sprites are sharp and there is a nice amount of detail in everything. What I especially like are the camera movements, more specifically the screen shakes. Every hit you deliver or take is accompanied by the screen shake. It can be distracting however, and I eventually found turning it off lead me to being able to read my enemies attacks better. It’s still nice for the immersion however. Enemy designs are pretty cool to, and it’s easy to differentiate all the types of enemies. It throws some funny stuff at you like the rabid racoons. Enemies also stand out quite easily, which is very helpful when there is a lot going on at any given moment. Spells also introduce some cool effects. Launching shockwave and seeing groups of enemies get destroyed in it’s path is a site to behold. Also, with the option to play as Stargrove or Stella, along with several colour presets for each, so it helps spice things up visually.
A couple of things I do not like. First, the level variation is almost non existent. Every floor as far as I can tell looks the same. Sure things are procedurally generated so the structure and layout will never repeat, but the colours and aesthetic of the floor remain the same. It’s possible things vary later on, but haven’t gotten that far into it yet. Looking around at videos online, I’m not seeing anything drastically different. Another issue I find, and most may probably not encounter this, is the text and HUD items are very small. This isn’t a problem when playing up close on a monitor, but if your desire is to lounge on the couch on from from the big screen in the living room, you might have some trouble.
Ruin of the Reckless sounds great. Sound effects are punchy and destructive. When you take out many enemies, the sounds that accompany the mayhem are fitting, and really make everything that much more intense. There’s also nice additions like clashing melee attacks with some enemies, resulting in clear parrying sounds. So even if the action is too fast paced to keep track of sometimes, the sounds will really help guide you to what’s actually going on. They also have a nice retro type fuzz to them, making it all sound like something out of the NES era.
Ruin of the Reckless’s sound track also stood out to me. I love the theme song to the game you hear on the opening menu. It’s a rockin’ tune with a retro sound to it. Other tracks in the game such as the starting area, levels and the shops hold up just a nicely, are some are pretty catchy. Overall, I enjoyed the musical variety and appreciate the retro sounds. The up beat tracks also lend nicely to the chaotic action that you frequently partake in, making this a very nice sounding game.
The game overall is very polished, but I did encounter some odd technical issues with controllers that delayed me from just jumping straight into the fray. I know using things like the Dualshock 4 is not very standard in the world of PC gaming, but the option is there. Furthermore, Ruin of Reckless does have native support for Xbox controls and Dualshock 4. I did find it odd however that using the Dualshock 4 controller scheme resulted in incorrect button mappings. What the game indicated was the O button, was actually mapped to the X button. It was quite odd. Loading up any other game, button mappings are perfectly fine. There is a quick solution, which is to tell the game you are using an Xbox controller. You will get displays for Xbox controller, but the layout has no issues this way. Also, using certain software ended up tricking the game to think there were two controllers, although I only had one. This lead to odd issues like the gaming reverting my saved settings and only allowing for keyboard as the main controller input.
Ruin of the Reckless is a great game. It has a huge variety of enemies each with distinct attacks and abilities. Combine it with the random designed floors, you can run into several combinations of enemies, leading to all sorts of different epic stand offs. With a great arsenal of equipment and destructive spells, taking out large hordes of enemies is ultimately very fun. Although visually there isn’t much variation in the level design, the game is all about fighting, and there is more than enough variety in that department to keep you satisfied. Regardless of the lack of variety in the levels, the game still looks good with vibrant and crisp character and enemy models with well animated attacks and spells that really help sell the destructive nature of this game. As noted, there is some very well done music in the game, most notably the main theme standing out that gets me ready for some mayhem. With all the challenges hidden underneath the surface of Ruin of the Reckless, along with it’s rewarding progression system, making it further than your last play through really makes you feel good in the end, even if you don’t always reach the top. I will definitely keep coming back to this one to see if one day I can reach the top. It will not be easy, but I have no doubts I can do it thanks to things like the card system which help make things easier. If you are a casual gamer looking for something easy to complete, you may want to do some research before committing to Ruin of the Reckless due to its very high difficulty, learning curve and having to continue playing from the start after death. Although with the card system and co-op mode, these make diving into the game much easier. I do highly recommend Ruin of the Reckless for anyone looking a challenging game and yearns for destructive, chaotic and well executed combat.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Steam copy of Ruin of the Reckless provided by the game’s PR and Marketing Rep, PlayerTwo. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.