PAX South 2017: 'Ruiner' Is Isometric Shooting At Its Finest

Ruiner Photo: Devolver / Reikon

Before PAX South, I’d never heard of Ruiner, a cyberpunk adventure from the team at Reikon Games. Now that I’ve spent some time with an early build of the project, and completed most of its first mission, I can’t wait to see Ruiner join the jam-packed first quarter release calendar.

Ruiner is an isometric shooter set in the year 2091. Players control an unnamed character, a less-than-stable individual Reikon describes as a “wired sociopath”, who’s brother has been kidnapped by a mysterious organization called HEAVEN. Naturally, it’s up to you (and a hacker buddy) to reveal and undermine the systemic corruption that has a stranglehold on the city of Rengkok. To do so, you’ll need to take down the Boss of HEAVEN. But taking down a criminal organization is never easy in these sorts of things, now is it?

The game is brutally difficult but learning the ropes proved to be mercifully simple. Movement is controlled with the WASD keys, while the mouse is used to aim, and weapons can be swapped with the scroll wheel. Ruiner is also heavily reliant on its dodge mechanic; an intriguing addition to the game that’s not like anything I’ve seen in similar titles. Players can execute a quick dash by holding the right mouse button, which slows down time, and then selecting a spot anywhere on the current screen to relocate to. It’s great for avoiding incoming gunfire, mines, etc. Damage is reduced while dashing and players can even queue up all three of their current dash triggers (when they’re not on cool down) to set up elaborate kill sequences.

Players have access to other special abilities, made possible by cybernetic enhancements, including a personal shield that can either protect our (anti)hero or turn him into a one-man wrecking crew. Reikon says a variety of other gadgets will be included in the final game, giving players the freedom to create a loadout that fits their preferred play style.

Visually, Ruiner is a game that manages to be equal parts grim and gorgeous. The game’s whole aesthetic is heavily inspired by Akira, with lingering influences from the lead artist’s former career in comics, but the art still manages to feel unique instead of just coming across as a lesser version of the iconic anime. There’s lot of red in the demo being shown at PAX South, from ambient lights and clothing to the copious amounts of blood spilled while playing, but early Ruiner screenshots suggest we’ll be exploring both well-lit, brightly colored portions of the city and its grungier corners. 

In motion, Ruiner feels like a distant cousin of Hotline Miami with a story that’s a bit easier to follow. The biggest difference being that Hotline Miami’s murder puzzles focus on reflexes and quick thinking while Ruiner’s murder puzzles ask players to identify and exploiting weaknesses of the many different enemy types you’ll meet throughout the game. The unidentified sociopath has access to a variety of futurist weaponry, like shotguns that set targets on fire, and can claim the weapons of those he kills in combat. 

Hilariously enough, a long metal pipe seems to be the most popular choice among PAX South attendees (myself included) for dismantling HEAVEN’s army. Our unnamed combatant wields it like a sword — fitting for a convention founded by the creators of the Cardboard Tube Samurai — leaving a trail of broken and bloodied bodies in his wake as he slashing and clubbing his way through the opposition. Each mission ends with a boss encounter, designed to test the player’s skills and patience and the hero is turned loose in Rengkok, where he can buy new gear and items, between jobs.

Reikon doesn’t expect Ruiner to be an especially long game. The studio says most players will probably finish the story in about six hours, give or take a few based on personal skill, but the Ruiner team is hoping to create something players will want to experience more than once. The goal is to offer a large enough variety of weapons, skills and perks to encourage players to beat Ruiner using several different play styles. The studio hasn’t committed to a specific release date yet; however, Reikon believes Ruiner will be ready for consumption in the next few months.

For a closer look at Ruiner, take a few minutes to check out the game’s announcement trailer and/or the gameplay footage released by Reikon Games. Then head down to the comments section and let us know whether or not Ruiner managed to pique your interest.

Ruiner is in development for PC, Mac and Linux. The game is expected to hit Steam in 2017.

Be sure to check back with and follow Scott on Twitter for more PAX South news, including previews, interviews and impressions, throughout the rest of the show.

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