Steam Library: Ruiner

Ruiner's action-packed intensity

Everyone loves classic cyberpunk. To have the sky resemble a television screen tuned to a dead channel, and murky individuals with an indeterminate amount of high-tech iron in their bodies wandering through neon-lit concrete jungles. To have the story be about a person who is almost boiled alive in an infernal cauldron, filled with flesh, cyberspace unleashed from its leash by progress and triumphing over hedonism. To have the world ruled by corporations, gangs, and other sects, but everyone is ultimately out for themselves.

Ah, classic.

It’s easy to imagine this picture. First and foremost, because the golden formula of the urban abyss is faithfully adhered to. The main thing is to reproduce this very abyss, and then, excuse me, there is no bottom, explore it as much as you want.

For example, one can closely examine such a complex problem as “What to do if a hacker hacks the chip in your brain and sends you to kill their competitors.”

The deep philosophical subtext of the aforementioned plot collision is immediately visible, even to the naked eye. In the main character, the authors embody both a little person from Russian classics and the biblical David. His Goliath is the corporation “Heaven,” and his slingshot spits plasma. Well, it spits different kinds of fortune, depending on the circumstances.

A dystopian world in Ruiner

Circumstances, as you know, can be different.

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom, where might makes right. In the dimly lit back alleys, simple hooligans reign supreme, not knowing any better battle tactics than brute force. Dealing with these comrades, strangely enough, will be the most difficult, because Ruiner’s heart is a hardcore arcade shooter with twenty attempts for every first of the many “arenas” of any local level.

The paradox of many top-down action games is that you hate the game the most in the first hour and the very first level. Mechanics, mechanics… you have to feel the exact speed at which bullets fly, which animations interfere with each other, and which do not, figure out special moves, and so on. You can’t learn all of this in advance. That’s why the simplest dummy targets in the game require special attention and more effort than you expect to spend on the starting location.

A cybernetic warrior in Ruiner

Unfortunate carriers of the same lost souls as our hero rush towards bullets with armor on, but instead of recoiling and being subsequently shot, their hands press on the power shield. The screen is flooded with a redder red than before. The mournful one-second game over makes you think about two things. Firstly, which new keyboard to buy, and secondly, how authentically Ruiner recreates those very cyberpunk images. Secondly-and-a-half, how new elements subtly seep into old traditions.

Cyberpunk is green and red. While the writers of the 80s extolled truly fantastic cities of the future, where the eternal night is illuminated by a crazy rainbow of advertisements, cinematographers and other designers were deprived of blue LEDs. It had already been invented, but it was bad. In the sense that it didn’t shine brightly. The sacred RGB trinity didn’t come together, and therefore, full-scale acid frenzy couldn’t be illuminated. Classic genre paintings were relieved by “holograms” and the diodes that existed. The image turned blue when it started raining and when the heroes escaped the city, enjoying moonlight without electric dancing.

The Japanese only achieved a practical blue LED in the 1990s (for which they received a well-deserved Nobel Prize in 2014), and the triumphant light show only began in the 2000s. The white LED light was unfamiliar to the future born in the 80s.

Ruiner is flooded with the right red. We had plenty of that red goodness.

High-powered confrontations in Ruiner

What was missing were helmets with LED monitors all over the shell and conversations with memes. You look at the protagonist in the Shelter’s branded tracksuit and with this very helmet on their head (instead of a head?) and you think that they should have come up with them back then. But who could have imagined what the internet would actually be like. And again, who would have brought such a cute relief screen to life. Nevertheless, the helmet in the world of the old new dark future looks natural, even though it actually wasn’t here before. It’s nice to see how modern progress fills in the missing elements of the old mosaic and thus brings it back to relevance.

By the way, the designers of Ruiner seem to be retrogrades somewhere. Healthy security cameras at the entrances and drone-televisions won’t let you lie. We know that the future that arrived n years ago turned out to be behind quadcopters and cigarette packs named GoPro, and the game, it seems, is not aware of that.

It would still be nice for our cyberpunk to learn all its missed lessons and finally get back on track, because there is already fierce competition in the retrofuturism sphere. It’s not just for no reason that the blue tracksuit with a yellow stripe somehow brings to mind a certain well-known game series.

The enigmatic Ruiner-66

Having recovered from a bout of nostalgia and finally getting used to the mechanics, you suddenly realize that your hero is not so much a survivor from the Shelter, but rather Tracer from Overwatch (or even from Heroes of the Storm, because the camera looks at the world from above). The lucky owner of hacked brains rushes jerkily through the arenas, delivering punches first from a distance, then in close combat, and leaving explosives behind. Street thugs have no chance against such happiness, so they are quickly replaced by employees of the private security company. Behind them are already the yakuza. And so on. Every first new class of enemies learns one technique from our rich repertoire, so it will become increasingly difficult to make your way through the levels. But, I must note, the further into the concrete forest, the more you get drawn into these endless shootouts.

In addition, Ruiner introduces bosses into the mix. The gaming retro has already been thoroughly explored by both big and small developers, so it feels a bit awkward to write about bosses working like in the good old days. The good old days are now sold in Early Access by the pound. But the fact remains that both intermediate thugs and final level challenges maintain that beloved balance among avid gamers between epic techniques, deadly force, and precise timing.

You know, that golden middle ground when you lose over and over again, get frustrated, but the thrill keeps coming, and you sit glued to the monitor until the very end. You come up with strategies, refine your combat algorithm, play with different sets of ammunition, and never want to retreat.

Exploring the Ruiner universe

As you may have already noticed, the truly new Ruiner doesn’t offer anything decisive except for a few miniature designer touches. But how great it is to see the game rolling on the rails laid down n years ago! Here you can admire the world of victorious dzaibatsu, remember Alien Shooter, and dominate bosses.

This whole disco doesn’t last long in modern terms, but the comparative brevity of an arcade game about non-stop shooting of everything alive is even more of a plus. After all, Ruiner transparently hints from the very beginning that true hardcore gamers should complete all episodes, achieve the maximum game rating, and that’s quite a challenge. I’m not sure if you will fall in love with the shooter enough to seriously take it on. But at least one playthrough will definitely be worth the time (and money, if it comes to that).

PC, PS4, Xbox One
Reikon Games
Devolver Digital
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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