Heroes of Ruin is an ambitious title which takes on a challenge few have attempted and even fewer have had any significant success at – taking a Nintendo console online for a compelling multi-player experience. While this action RPG can be played offline (important for a handheld console of course), there is very firm encouragement for players to join the online component, with the game defaulting to this mode from the very beginning. It is admirable that developer n-Space has attempted to bring Nintendo gamers a decent online gaming experience, being the first (hopefully of many) 3DS game to incorporate in-game voice chat – a feature which has been sorely lacking from the huge library of DS and Wii titles.
Heroes of Ruin is in essence a dungeon crawler that allows single-player/offline play, but the greatest value should lie in the four player co-op online mode, which allows players to drop in and out at will. The storyline is plainly generic with the hero (you, that is – or at least one of the four character classes you choose out of Vindicator, Gunslinger, Alchitect, or Savage) finding himself washed up in the city of Nexus. The ruler of the city has been cursed and the ultimate mission is to find a cure, but along the way there are plenty of side missions to accomplish, and dungeons to explore and loot.
The typically bland plot is accompanied by equally uninspiring visuals. Screens often look muddy, and the frame rate suffers at times particularly in multi-player and when the console’s 3D mode is engaged. It’s not the prettiest game you’ll see on the 3DS, but players will look past this if the gameplay itself is engaging enough.
The combat is certainly accessible – whether the ease with which you will deal to your enemies is engaging can only be judged by the individual. There are special attacks which become more numerous as you level up, but the standard attacks are typically so effective that the usual obsession over which attributes and attacks to build up doesn’t really feature. An abundance of health potions makes the game easier still, and without any difficulty settings to be found, it won’t take long for you to complete the game. Apart from completing the game again with the different character classes there is little else in the way of specific replay value.
Multiplayer generally increases the longevity of any game title, and Heroes of Ruin allows this both online and offline (one Game Card per player). Voice chat is available via the 3DS built-in microphone, and players can drop in and out at will without major disruption. With the right set of players the game can be surprising enjoyable despite the faults already mentioned. There is a trading component to the game which allows items to be traded in-game or using StreetPass (your mileage in New Zealand will certainly vary), but a major problem that is encountered is that midway through the game it is very easy to max out your wallet. This imbalance is rather unfortunate and takes away almost all value from the trading system. SpotPass is also employed, which gives players new challenges every day free for a year.
Heroes of Ruin is a title that has all the features that make one want it to succeed, but ultimately some critical flaws mean it probably won’t reach any dizzy heights. It delivers one of the best online experiences of any Nintendo console game ever, but that isn’t saying much since other consoles have delivered similar experiences for years now. While best shared with friends, Heroes of Ruin still has enough in it to be a respectable title.