After yet another gaming Kickstarter success story, Ruin of the Reckless from Faux-Operative Games has finally released on PC. For those who haven’t heard of it, Ruin of the Reckless is a roguelike brawler that blends together speedy quick-paced combat with the nostalgic style of the 16-bit classics from the 90s. It’s an enjoyable little release that’s easy for just about anyone to pick up and play, with the developer putting its own unique stamp on an already popular genre. However, it lacks the variety and difficult balance that’s needed to keep gamers hooked in for the long term…
Ruin of the Reckless’ story feels a little obtuse from the offset, with it not really having that big of a bearing on how the player’s journey through the game progresses. In a nutshell, anyone who lived a reckless life gets brought to a mysterious tower upon their death. If they manage to reach the very peak of the tower, they’ll be granted one wish. The protagonist has been lucky enough (or unlucky… I mean, they’re dead and all…) to get a chance to climb this tower and have that one wish. What would they wish for? Play the game and find out.
It’s a neat premise, but not one that gets overly developed the further you progress through the game. It’s introduced to the player and does feel intriguing, but it seems like the gameplay was prioritised over establishing a narrative that grows as you move on further through the game. It starts to become an afterthought, with the actual reasoning behind the journey through the tower easily forgotten by the time you manage to reach the peak. It’s not necessarily a flaw though, since a lot of roguelike games like this don’t primarily focus on offering a gripping tale.
Each level of the game acts as a floor of the tower, with your main goal being to find the key that activates the elevator to the next floor up. You’re given a time limit to find this key, though time running out doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll die but rather that the floor beneath you will start crumbling just to make life difficult. Each floor of the game is procedurally generated too, so you’ll never quite know what’s ahead.
Each of these floors is full to the brim with enemies. Seriously, Ruin of the Reckless could be a little overwhelming with its enemy count at times, with the screen full to the brim with deadly critters that want to bring your lif- I mean, ‘afterlife’ to an end. Thankfully combat is quick paced and fun, with the control scheme intuitive enough that you’ll feel in total control of the action. You’ll typically be using fast-paced melee attacks to take down opponents, but the further you progress through the tower the more weapons and spells you unlock. Each weapon works in a different way – some might be a little slower but pack more of a punch, whilst others might be quick but have less range. It’s up to you to work out what’s best for every given situation in the game. It’s great unlocking all the different kinds of weapons though, with each one fun to use in their own little way; you’ll never find yourself sticking to just one type, but instead toying around with each to see how they can make life easier for you. It’s fun.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming nature of the game’s enemies could make tactical thought go out of the window. On the earlier floors of the tower, it’s easy to think things through and utilise weaponry that works best against smaller groups. The further you progress though, the more you simply focus on button mashing to achieve your goal. You won’t have the time and space to be tactical in your approach, but will rather find yourself desperately ploughing at buttons as a means to take down your enemies and quickly make your way to safety. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since it makes for an action-packed experience, but it does nullify the tactical element of Ruin of the Reckless that is established early on.
At least the spells go some way to giving you the upper hand though, with them typically dishing out a good amount of damage over a large area. Attacks like the lightning are incredibly effective to use, plus they look cool in-game – Ruin of the Reckless has a stylish aesthetic that carries over into combat too. Again though, the quick nature of the game and the fact you have to recharge your spells means they’re not always an option. With countless enemies charging your way and time working against you, desperation will often take charge and you’ll simply have to button-mash your way through.
Despite these issues, the game does a good job of making the player feel empowered. As you work your way through the tower you’ll find or purchase orbs that can be used to upgrade your character. These unlock a series of special abilities that’ll give you the upper hand against your opponents – it might be something as small as more health, dishing out more damage, offering a new move to use, or even summoning a pet to help you out in-combat. You can feel your character improving with time, which is a good thing seeing as almost the entirety of the game is spent facing off against enemies.
Ruin of the Reckless has a system called the Chaos Cards, which essentially act as boosts the player can equip. You can use nine at a time, with each one having a different effect – some positive, and some negative. It’s a neat mechanic that allows you to fine-tune your experience, in turn often giving you a slight advantage over your foe. Be warned though, some Chaos Cards have a negative effect that’ll make life tougher for you; it’s up to you to choose what you use carefully…
Aesthetically, Ruin of the Reckless looks great. It has its own unique 16-bit look that can appear a little simplistic, but is pretty stylish in its own little way. Character and enemy design is great too, with some real bizarre creatures met on your journey – there’s certainly a lot of personality to the game. One thing that did lack personality was the level design though. It’s procedurally generated which means you won’t see the same thing twice, but it didn’t stop levels feeling the same. It was just open areas and corridors, with nothing overly unique ever standing out to me. With a fair few floors to work across and the perma-death nature of the game that demands repetitive playthroughs, being bored of what I was seeing was a bit frustrating.
Ruin of the Reckless was designed with co-op play in mind, so you can work through the tower with the help of a friend. The fast-paced action of the game works well in co-op, with the extra player coming in real handy when facing off against all the opponents the game throws at you. It’s good fun and reminded me of playing with friends in the classic SEGA Mega Drive days – a feeling I think the developer might’ve been striving for.
I’d be remiss not to mention that the game can suffer quite a few slowdowns during gameplay, with the frame rate seeing a lot of drops. It seemed like it was part of gameplay initially, with the drops occurring when I hit an enemy; as I came up against larger groups though, it became more apparent and dropped even lower. I don’t know if it was an issue on my end, but the PC I used was more than powerful enough to run the game at the highest setting – it was unusual and certainly something worth noting.
Whilst Ruin of the Reckless had some enjoyable combat mechanics and neat ideas, the imbalance with the game’s difficulty as you progress and the lacking level design could be a little underwhelming. It’s never outright bad, but it feels like the developers missed the mark in some areas of design.
It didn’t stop me having fun though, and when Ruin of the Reckless is at its best you’ll enjoy its exciting quick-paced action. Multiplayer is great too, with the extra player adding a bit more balance to the game’s tricky nature. There’s just a lack of consistency in everything that prevents the game from striving towards greatness.
Developer: Faux-Operative Games
Publisher: Faux-Operative Games
Release Date: 26/04/2017