Rage games are something I tend to avoid. As far as recent game releases are concerned, I have yet to sip from Cuphead’s Kool-Aid, and I wouldn’t touch Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy with a 10 foot sledgehammer, because let’s face it, I don’t need that stress in my life. Then Ruiner found me…
The similarities to Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, and anything else that uses the distractingly bright lights and flashy technological advances of the cyberpunk future are obvious from the get go in both this isometric shooter’s aesthetics and theme. Long story short, those in power are often cruel and willing to take advantage of others in any and every way that fits their needs. Life sucks, then you die.
And you die a lot. No, seriously, according to the Xbox app I died 230 times in the course of 8 or 9 hours of playing the game on normal. 87 times in one level, while still managing to get a decent grade on it. Because the developers expect this. Not only that, but they expect it to be even more excruciating, recommending the game be played on hard. What the Hell is wrong with these people?
I will say there is a definite appeal to the combat and the upgrade system that helps the player adapt to the often hectic battle scenarios involving waves of capable enemies, and I will commend the developers for allowing the player to reassign upgrade points whenever they want to better suit the enemy type and boss’s strengths. Yet even so, I often found myself overwhelmed and frustrated with the combat, resorted to “dashing” all over the screen swinging wildly with the hope that I would make contact with anything dangerous. Basically this game’s equivalent of button mashing.
Maybe things would’ve been different had I discovered the gloriousness of the shock grenades earlier in my playthrough (trust me, their ability to stun will make them your best friend), but more often than not the fights left me feeling exasperated. At least in a game like Dark Souls, a game that is known for being very challenging, you can leave a boss fight to grind up your level and skills, but Ruiner just throws you at the boss over and over again until you find a strategy that works, or you get lucky, or you punch a hole through your TV. Let’s just say I cussed “Her” (our companion and witness to our shortcomings) out a lot as she goaded me every time I failed. Seriously, call me “Puppy” one more time, lady.
As a stubborn completionist, this game became my Everest for the two nights I played it. I stopped enjoying it at one point, but I refused to let this game defeat me because I was intrigued by the world and wanted to know how the protagonist’s story ends. Well, I finally beat it, but don’t ask me to explain the story. And judging by the reaction on the internet, I’m not alone in my confusion and disappointment in the ending. Sigh…
In the end, I may have had some fun playing Ruiner (and with the overwhelmingly positive reviews its getting, it seems that most others had way more than I did), but those are distant memories as the game proves its title is more than appropriate for me. It is the Ruiner of happiness, confidence, and quite a few controllers, I’d imagine. And that is not the type of experience I long for when it comes to gaming.