The 3DS is rapidly approaching a year and a half in age, and n-Space’s Heroes of Ruin is the system’s first legitimate, albeit half-assed, entry into the indefinitely sustainable RPG category. Preliminary reports falsely lead gamers to believe this to be some kind of handheld Diablo or Torchlight distillation, when in fact comparison to such landmarks is terribly inaccurate. Heroes of Ruin embodies a dingy action-adventure fantasy boasting no need for continually payable expansion packs and offering infinite social connections via the 3DS’s StreetPass and SpotPass capabilities, enticing with frequent downloadable update patches that allow for weekly multiplayer challenges. The problem isn’t that Heroes of Ruin fouls up its WiFi functionality, because that certain aspect, especially the loot collecting/trading and decent voice chatting during combat, is the sole redeeming feature of this otherwise unsatisfactory experience. No, the most ponderous issue with this Square Enix-published disappointment is that, unlike almost everything else the company directly or indirectly has a hand in, it’s totally and disgracefully composed from an aesthetic and creative perspective. This game absolutely bleeds blandness, from its snooze-worthy character designs and unattractive background environments to its monotonous soundtrack, abysmal voice acting, and stock storyline. It’s as if all the attention was focused on perfecting the online support (which is, in all actuality, allowable but far from flawless), leaving a fragmented, forgettable game that could have at least made par had more acute care been imparted.
Heroes of Ruin presents a narrative that comes off like something a procrastinating elementary school kid dreamed up last minute for a book report. Ataraxis, the oligarch of your cookie-cutter hub world known as Nexus, is near death from a devastating spell and calls upon the warriors of the land to seek out an antidote with the declaration that a great prize awaits the one who prevails. Yawn. Character development is nonexistent, providing little to no emotional incentive to become invested in the humdrum oubliette-traversing that never ventures anywhere beyond Nexus’s zestless boundaries. The largely NPC-initiated quests follow the selection of a class for your wayward mercenary. Only four, dully base-covering occupations are available: Vindicator (all-around attacker, akin to a knight, for beginners presumably), Gunslinger (think of an archer with firearms), Savage (souped-up offense, lousy defense), and, of course, the magic specialist Alchitect. Seriously, how often have we seen this lineup? Why must we be exposed to such innocuousness time and time again? Heroes of Ruin’s single-player mode is crafted vapidly in the manner from top to bottom. Journey to your destination, muck about slaying peons and collecting their drops, solve some laughably simplistic puzzles, battle an uninteresting boss, backtrack, checkpoint, save, repeat until cadaverous from boredom. With a relatively sparse campaign, the game obviously wants the player to run through it once with each job type, but unfortunately the lack of distinctiveness and imagination within these shallow archetypes fail to prompt such a thing.
Four-combatant multiplayer combat fares better than solitary undertakings, particularly treasure-hunting missions, and setting the 3D lever just right is paramount to sidestep around strange visual distortions by way of periodic lag. Still, taking down a Big Bad with three buddies is only slightly more enjoyable than doing it alone. Visiting the game’s website to check leaderboards is surely specifically for the truly overzealous Heroes of Ruin players, and I honestly can’t visualize a dimension where many of those exist.
If you own a 3DS and desire nothing other than a portable multiplayer dungeon-crawler with adequate loot-hording and strictly par online interactions, then Heroes of Ruin just might be your new jam. Contrariwise, for gamers who appreciate even a speck of inspired originality and artistry in their video games, and who have grown increasingly weary of being force-fed homogenous, unseemly content ad nauseam, it would be best to avoid this categorical oversight at all costs.