For the uninitiated, Heroes of Ruin is a loot action RPG, a genre that doesn't often get represented on handhelds. Well, n-Space has heard and read the demand, and they have developed this game for starved 3DS owners.
At first, you choose between two classes of characters (the full game will have four available to you). One class is a bipedal lion who utilizes up close sword attacks. The other class is a long range gunner, armed with two firearms to blast at foes. There is some customization to be had. You can set the skin tone, hair style, hair color, and cape color for your character. After this, you are whisked away to the name input screen where you can be xCoolGuyx or Awesome77 all you like.
You then get the choice between starting an offline or online game, or choosing to join someone else's game. Joining a game can be difficult if you try to barge into one that has three out of four spots full as the rooms fill up rather fast. It's best to join a room that's 1/4 full and go from there.
There is only one mission/level/dungeon/etc. in the demo, The Tangled Growth, an introductory area set in a heavily wooded and bushy forest. You interact with NPCs, the forest spirits, as well as to investigate certain quest-related objects using the L button.
Speaking of quests, talking to the aforementioned NPCs will give you quests on top of the main one of vanquishing the boss within the forest dungeon. There were a good handful of side quests to partake in, from destroying three mystical statues guarded by increasingly more aggressive enemies to finding eight wood spirits, strewn all about the level. Completing these not only gives you a neat piece of equipment, but you also earn a high amount of experience points.
Experience is gained through finishing off quests and slaying enemies mercilessly who stand in your way and wish to make your time in The Tangled Growth anything but pleasant. Enemies will also drop money, items, and equipment that can be sold or automatically equipped with a press of a direction of the d-pad. When a level is gained, you can use points to upgrade your stats: attack, health, and energy for magic. In the full version of the game you can have your character progress through a skill tree, learning unique abilities depending on the path they take.
|The lion's "mane" source of offense is his sword.|
The environments of The Tangled Growth are remarkably detailed. Flowers bloom, roots cover the ground, and lighting effects such as sunlight breaking through the forest canopy are impressive. The 3D effect is really nice on the eyes, too. From my three runs through the dungeon, each run had a totally different design of where rooms were. Plenty of enemies can fill the screen (the most I saw was six or seven), and even with four players the slowdown was not overly apparent.
|"On the count of three we'll draw, partner. ..3."|
It remains to be seen if the full version of Heroes of Ruin will be as interesting as the demo is. There are better loot RPGs available on other platforms, but don't take that as a knock towards Heroes of Ruin. This is an entertaining game built on the limitations of the 3DS hardware, and it will no doubt find a niche with the 3DS user base. RPGs are in scarce supply on the system, so I'm sure those thirsting for a new one to play will make it their personal quest to pick this game up pending there is a competent end-game, plenty of replay value, and no bizarre design choice within the full game. SuperPhillip Central will be keeping an eye for the retail version of Heroes of Ruin when it releases in North America on July 17th.