I played Lone Ruin for over three hours straight after booting it up, with the satisfyingly intense combat keeping me completely invested in the action until I managed to beat it. After that? It’s still fun, but lacks the depth and content seen in some of the more high-profile releases in the roguelike genre to keep me coming back for more.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The premise of Lone Ruin is pretty straight forward, with players approaching a mysterious robed figure who gives you a magical attacking ability to venture forth with. It’s dangerous to go alone, right? From there, you head into the dark remains of a ruined city, going deeper and deeper as you slaughter the countless foes coming your way, with the ultimate goal being to defeat the vicious being that seems to have plagued the land.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the game’s narrative, with Lone Ruin keeping it simple as far as its storytelling goes – both with the intro and the very brief ending. It made it a little difficult to care about the protagonist’s plight, especially when you compare it to similar titles that flesh out the world and its characters with detail. I’m probably nit-picking a little bit because it’s clear from the get-go that storytelling isn’t meant to be the standout aspect of the game, but I always hope for a bit more from games like this, if only to keep myself invested in the journey over the multiple playthroughs it takes to succeed.

Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for it, with Lone Ruin having one hell of a fun gameplay loop that sees players blasting away at enemies in twin-stick shooting action. The multiple spells offered at the start of the game each give players something unique to utilise (my personal favourites have been the shards and the scythes), whilst powering them up by collecting upgrades during your run makes you a real powerhouse by the end. You can even unlock perks and upgrades to boost your character’s skillset, whilst the additional weapons you find throughout each area give you more flexibility in your attacking options. If you die? You start again.

“The action is solid and satisfying, the spell variety offers plenty of creativity, whilst clearing an area of enemies and getting a fresh upgrade ALWAYS feels good.”

Players will progress from area to area, with a choice given as to the route they want to take – each offers a different reward, so players can cater their progress towards their playstyle. Do you focus on earning the cash to buy new gear? Or do you prioritise upgrading what you’ve already got? Or do you take a risk and take a more difficult route that throws more enemies your way, but rewards you with even more bonuses? There’s a risk versus reward element in place in the game, but ultimately players can define their own progress.

There are a decent variety of enemies to face off against, with some basic minions that act as fodder, some that’ll blast projectiles your way, some that’ll explode, some that’ll teleport across each area, and so forth. The screen can fill with foes at times, so there’s a heavy emphasis placed on constantly shooting and maintaining your distance. At the same time, some weapons have to be recharged to be used, so you won’t want to leave yourself vulnerable. It adds some tactical nuance to the experience where you have to plot out your actions carefully, whilst the varying spells and their upgrades can often be better suited for the different situations you find yourself in.

The random nature of the spell upgrades does mean there isn’t always a lot of consistency to Lone Ruin though. At one point, I had an upgrade for my shards that allowed me to blast them constantly without having to recharge, which made me close to unstoppable. I didn’t see that upgrade again in other runs though, so actually found myself struggling to progress after getting used to having so much power. An element of randomness is always present in the roguelike genre so I can’t hold it against the game too much, but seeing a significant disparity of power in my spells early on did give the experience a momentary sour point.

Check out some screenshots down below:

It didn’t last long though, especially since the game just feels so good to play. The action is solid and satisfying, the spell variety offers plenty of creativity, whilst clearing an area of enemies and getting a fresh upgrade ALWAYS feels good. I haven’t even mentioned the boss battles yet, which stand out as some spectacular and challenging affairs. However, only having three bosses to battle against was a little underwhelming, especially since they were one of the highlights of the experience.

Lone Ruin clearly has a lot going for it and I really enjoyed my time playing. Unfortunately, once I beat it for the first time, it was hard to motivate myself to come back for more. It’s not that the game stopped being fun, but rather that it didn’t have the depth to make subsequent runs feel substantially different outside of trying new loadouts. The environments get samey fast (even IF I absolutely loved the aesthetic of the game), whilst there aren’t enough different enemy types to keep players on their toes. Whilst playing across different difficulties, in the Survival Mode, or to earn higher scores may appeal to some, Lone Ruin didn’t offer enough to make it appealing in the long term for me.

Lone Ruin Review

Lone Ruin is a lot of fun to play through, but lacks the depth and variety to keep players coming back for more after beating it. Nothing in the game is bad by any means, but with little environmental and enemy variety and the lack of a narrative or lore to keep players invested in the world, subsequent runs just lacked that sense of oomph after achieving victory once – especially when compared to similar roguelike releases that have a bit more substance.

Still, I certainly enjoyed my time with Lone Ruin and the frantic action is a blast during that initial surge for victory, whilst toying with the spells and upgrading them shows it has a plenty of tricks up its sleeve. It just doesn’t offer enough to stand tall with the greats of the genre.

Developer: Cuddle Monster Games
Publisher: Super Rare Originals
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Website: https://www.superrareoriginals.com/games/lone-ruin