When the name Square Enix is attached to an RPG, most gamers expect a certain level of quality. If the game involves loot hording, dungeon crawling or level grinding – you can rest assured that Square Enix will bring its A-game. Put a Square Enix game on the 3DS and you might see this handheld console reach a new level of success that doesn’t require Mario.
Unfortunately, Heroes of Ruin is a far cry from A-quality material. Developer n-Space certainly delivered a technically sound game, complete with surprisingly good multiplayer gameplay. But sadly, these Heroes were ruined by an utter lack of personality. Bland visuals, an uninspired story, forgettable characters and papier-mâché enemies hurt this game from reaching Square’s usual RPG heights.
Heroes of Ruin gives gamers four of your typical RPG character types, including your de facto hack-and-slash warrior and mage. Seen through the game’s top-down view, it’s hard to really tell the difference between any of these characters. They are visually as drab as the dungeons found in Heroes of Ruin, all of which are accessed through a singular location known as the Nexus. It’s hardly the kind of expansive world you’d want from an RPG.
There’s nothing that lends itself to the imagination in Heroes of Ruin and that is in large part to the forgettable story. Starting with the Nexus, which is a port city, you’ll travel to a few regions that were selected from RPG’s default cache. Instead of creating a unique cavern, forest region or frost board, you get the feel as though the design team purchased a few stock dungeons at random.
The unimpressive level design really comes out when you view the game in 3D. Drab textures highlight the lack of personality in this game, which was obviously designed to force gamers to play in multiplayer mode instead of single player.
Multiplayer is an utter joy to play if you can find players to party-up with. Snatching loot from your team after they killed an enemy always results in fast and frantic fun – even if you don’t make friends in doing so. Monsters reappear all the time so the loot hording never stops. You can also find several weapons dealers and trade outposts to cash in your loot for better power ups.
Surprisingly, there’s hardly any lag or glitching that happens in the multiplayer mode, which is an amazing achievement on a Nintendo handheld device. With Heroes of Ruin, n-Space has shown off the potential of Nintendo’s new handheld system. It’s no wonder that every time you power on the game, the system menu tries to force you into multiplayer mode. It’s almost a nonstop sales pitch that says, “Forget about the game, look what we can do with multiplayer.”
One downside to multiplayer is the lackluster combat. Most enemies and even bosses can be defeated with hack-and-slash, button mashing. It makes the presence of character classes a needless addition to the game. When you have four characters in your party, bosses will go down as easily as if they were made out of paper. It would have been nice if n-Space had taken some lessons from Monster Hunter in realizing a multiplayer combat experience. Even when you party-up, you still want a challenge to exist.
Outside of combat, there are a few puzzles to solve, which can hardly be considered puzzles. These aren’t mind boggling challenges like those found in a Professor Layton game or even those found in a typical Zelda game. The puzzles boil down to matching items or moving around objects to create the right sequence. These serve as nothing more than quick distractions to the button-mashing, loot hording.
Everything about Heroes of Ruin is technically sound. It just doesn’t feel like this game was finished. Dungeons could be more complex, visuals could be more eye-catching and the story could generate more intrigue. It’s great to have endless weapons like in Borderlands. But if you’re an RPG, you want a robust story and not something you can breeze through in under eight hours. You also want empowering character classes. When using the mage and the warrior feels almost interchangeable in every combat scenario, then something went wrong.
Although Heroes of Ruin is an admirable multiplayer game on the 3DS, it lacks the personality needed in an RPG. True RPG gamers should never feel as though they want to quickly skip through your story because it’s a useless add-on. However, they’ll do just that in Heroes of Ruin.