The story surrounds a land that has been brutally savaged by war for more than 100 years, until the powerful lords brought a fragile peace to the land. This peace has been threatened and Ataraxis, the lord of the city of Nexus, fell ill after a deadly curse was placed on him. A message has been sent out to the people of the city, promising great rewards if one person can find him a cure.
You can choose to play a Vindictator, Gunslinger, Alchitect or Savage. The Vindicator is a knight from Leomar City of Sanctum, who is a fierce swordfighter and uses healing and battlefield control to try and protect his allies. The Gunslinger is a simple nomad from the land of Veil who uses clever gunfire and tricks to devastate enemies from a distance. The Alchitect is a mystical elven wizard from the island city of Requiem, who casts spells and uses his magical abilities to destroy large groups of enemies. The Savage has been exiled from his tribe and uses sheer strength and brute power to overcome his foes.
From the moment you start the game, there is a great deal of customization for your character from choosing the skin tone to what colour hair you want. Once you’ve decided what character to choose, you can then select skill points for every level and each of the levels has three skill trees to choose from. Each of these skills can be assigned to the xyba buttons. My choice of character was the mighty Vindicator who is gallant with his sword. In the Crusader tree I can assign different abilities such as Holy Charge, Smite or Searing Strikes. If you select Holy Charge for example, this enables you to go sprinting forward and home in on enemies, with the opportunity for an unexpected stun attack. Smite allows you to deal more extensive damage on enemies who are at a low health, but also deals bonus damage to any stunned enemies within the surrounding areas. Searing Strikes turns your weapon into a fiery ball of flames which can scorch enemies and enables your party members to do the same in co-op mode. The variety of different skills is impressive, and other examples for the Vindicator class include The Executioner skill, which allows critical strikes upon enemies and a chance to attack stunned creatures, and Blade Flurry, which enables you to move whilst swinging your sword around in an endless torrent of attacks.
Shipwrecked and finding yourself ashore in the world of Veil for the first time, you soon learn the basic controls as the 3DS touch screen becomes your dungeon map, showing various points of interest. To the left of this you will be able to access your inventory, quest log, skill menu and player trading.
The town of Nexus is a merchant town filled with a selection of characters that will provide certain objectives you have to fulfill. Using the L shoulder button enables you to engage and interact with the townspeople and various objects. Strolling around Nexus, filled with its merchant boats, and a variety of stalls, this is your central hub from which you can leave to find new locations around the map. Most of the townspeople will send you off to a number of caverns and dungeons to fulfill quests, which keeps you entertained for a large amount of time as you hack your way through ghosts, wolves, spiders and sharks. Don’t worry about being killed too quickly early on in the game, because there are a large amount of health potions to find in each area, so you can keep your health topped up. You can take both health and mana potions by using the d-pad. Your health and your mana bar are displayed in the top screen and also shows how many of each potion you have, with a maximum of 20.
The maps in Heroes of Ruin are massive, so you need to explore everywhere as there is a great deal of hidden treasure to find. Combat is fairly straight forward, with basic attack and your choice of unlocked abilities assigned to the ABXY buttons. Early on in the game, you will find yourself having to take on all manner of different missions, such as fetching Ickthid eyes and crab legs to bait a Hippode at its lair and defeat it, and locating a lost crate of potions inside Eckhardt’s laboratory. There is a massive number of missions to take on in this game, but most of them revolve around either collecting or defeating objects/enemies.
Progressing through the story, your character will level up and you can assign might, vigor or soul points to build up your character. Loot is an important part of any dungeon crawler, and Heroes of Ruin doesn’t disappoint. There are loads of weapons, armour pieces and items to collect, and each item is labeled to show which class of character is able to use it and comparing items to see which is best is easy, ensuring that the player doesn’t get too overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, with the great deal of treasures and equipment to pick up at every turn, you will quickly find that your inventory is full. This means you’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth from the merchant town to sell equipment to the local townspeople and build up your stash of gold. The end of level bosses are relatively easy to overcome and reward you with yet more treasure. A log is kept of your completed quests and there are daily or weekly web challenges to participate in.
Graphically the game looks polished and crisp in it’s top down view with a great deal of detail in the cutscenes and level bosses being a stand out feature. Heroes of Ruin plays as I would imagine a portable version of Diablo to play, which is not a bad thing. At times though, it does become a little repetitive with some of the game feeling slightly predictable in places. You will find yourself revisiting previously explored areas, albeit with different objectives. But the game is so solid and well made, that even slight repetition cannot dowse my enthusiasm for Heroes of Ruin.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Heroes of Ruin is the inclusion of drop in/ drop out co-op, both locally and online, with up to three other players. There is even voice chat available for those wishing to discuss tactics, or anything else. There is even the chance to put unwanted items into the market for other players to buy, or pick yourself up a bargain. The online features are very impressive and raise the game from rather good to exceptional.
Heroes of Ruin is the type of game that the 3DS has been crying out for. With proper online features and the constant addition of new quests, dungeon crawler fans will be entertained for months to come, and the games relative simplicity will allow even newcomers to easily get their moneys worth. An essential title for all 3DS owners to pick up.