Heroes of Ruin review
While there is certainly no shortage of Action RPG's, akin to Diablo, available on handhelds (Dungeon Siege II and Untold Legends for PSP, Dungeon Hunter for Vita, and many more) they all seem very cookie cutter, and missing some important features that would otherwise make the game feel complete. Enter Heroes of Ruin, a dungeon crawling, Action RPG that can also be closely compared to Blizzard's juggernaut. While it still is rather cookie cutter, it also features some of the most robust online modes for a handheld. However, Heroes of Ruin isn't the most complete package.
You'll spend your time around the city of Nexus, where you'll be tasked with awakening Ataraxis, who just so happens to be the founder of Nexus. With Nexus acting as your primary quest hub, you'll be tasked with the usual, kill a bunch of monsters, collect a bunch of items, you know, the works. While I wasn't that caught up with the story, it did catch me off guard in a few instances, but honestly, I just cared about the hacking, the slashing and most of all, the loot.
You have a choice of four different classes to pick from; The Vindicator being the Paladin of the group, Gunslinger who is your obvious Ranger class, Savage who is the main warrior class, and Alchitect (yes, it's spelled that way) who excels in magic. From then on, it's pretty much a standard hack and slash affair that is actually quite fun.
One of the most surprising aspects come up even before you make your first step as your newly created character. The game right away suggests hopping online and starting your adventure with three other people. That was definitely a pleasant surprise and not something you see on a handheld often. It actually worked quite well. I was able to hop on and actually connect fairly easily with others.
That isn't even the best part. One of the most unique features and something that I would have loved to see other ARPG's do as well, is the Alliance system. Your friends who are on your 3DS friend list can be tagged as part of your alliance, which add a whole new layer of gameplay to the game. While questing alongside an alliance member, you'll be able to level up your relationship (which isn't as weird as it sounds) and gain certain buffs and effects. Some of these are truly fantastic and make questing with people that you know extremely worth it.
Heroes of Ruin does some other things right too though. For instance any loot that you pick up and don't need, you can instantly sell, no matter if you're deep in a dungeon. This quick sell system allows you to keep questing, without much downtime. Side Quest aficionados will be happy to know that there are lots to lose track of time with.
Now on to the downsides. Each Hero can specialize in three different Ability Trees, though they aren't really trees, but more so sequential unlocks. After learning an ability you can then map three of them to your face buttons to unleash them on hordes of monsters. The problem here is that since the game is so easy, you'll find that your standard attack gets most of the work done, which is truly a shame since some of the skills are actually pretty awesome, they're just not necessary.
The menu system is tedious too. Not just because it somewhat slow to load, but you have to navigate a bunch of submenus just to get where you want to go. Scrolling through all your new gear is extremely tedious, and at this point, I would have much rather had a "Equip Best Items" feature, just so I wouldn't have to scroll through the whole thing.
While Heroes of Ruin definitely has some of the best online play capabilities of any 3DS game that I've previously got my hands on, it doesn't share the same amount of polish in the graphics department. Now I'm not one to usually complain about graphics, but I've seen very impressive graphics on the 3DS before. Seeing your characters close up, you really see how little detail was put into them. On one hand, it's understandable, something had to be sacrificed in order to make the online play so fluid, but this is just an eyesore. The environments are somewhat of a mixed bag. Some of them look really good, while others have muddled textures, making them stick out like a sore thumb from their surroundings.
The game also shines when played in 3D, because the depth of field effect actually works quite well in isometric games like this. The problem is the slowdown. As soon as you flick that 3D slider, you're going to see a noticeable dip in frames per second. This is nothing new, as I've stated a very similar problem with Dead or Alive Dimension on the 3DS as well, but when things get really chaotic on screen, the slow down is pretty unbearable.
Heroes of Ruin is simply a little rough around the edges. While one part of it is truly great (fun hacking and slashing and impressive online play) the rest suffers from not enough polish. If you can get over the somewhat bad presentation, and not turning up that 3D slider, you will find that Heroes of Ruin can be quite enjoyable, especially when played with others online.