Square Enix’s Heroes of Ruin is actually a pleasantly surprising title for your Nintendo 3DS. Though it wasn’t terribly unique in its execution, it did deliver a gameplay experience on the 3DS that I believe action-RPG fans, such as myself, will enjoy thoroughly.
Heroes of Ruin doesn’t necessarily employ any groundbreaking gameplay compared to other RPGs, though the way the game is set up, it really does promote use of its multiplayer functionality. Heroes of Ruin has a class system similar to that of WoW or Rift – of the four characters you can pick from, each one fills a specific need for a group of players, be it a tank, healer, or damage dealer. In addition to the fact that the default game mode is to search for a multiplayer game, Square Enix seems to promote cooperative play heavily. Though I didn’t get the chance to experience multiplayer play, from what I played on my own I understand why playing with people, especially friends, would make this game vastly more enjoyable.
For the most part, Heroes of Ruin follows the standard RPG format of picking up quests, completing them, and then turning them in. You receive and find gear as you progress though quests and gradually unlock new areas to visit and complete quests in those zones. Anyone who has played an MMO knows that questing really isn’t any fun on your own, in fact it can become quite tedious and cumbersome, sometimes averting players from wanting to continue on their characters. In addition to making the majority of the game’s content more bearable, it also makes the content itself easier to progress through. Because of the way each character fills a niche in a group, their abilities synergize extremely well, allowing some players to hold enemies in place whilst other open the heavens above and rain down heart-rending amounts of damage.
As with most action RPGs, even though there is a story, it’s not necessarily the center of attention for Heroes of Ruin. Honestly, the most I got out of the story is that you are a chosen hero who must help fight the evils that plague the world. Nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary here; it’s pretty safe to say that Heroes of Ruin really doesn’t do anything too innovative with how it portrays the story. Overall, progression is decidedly linear, though you can travel back to past areas if you so wish, though beyond having some uncompleted quests, I can’t think of a single reason to take advantage of this if you’re not traveling to a trader to buy or sell items.
My past experience with DS games is that when they attempt to create 3D models for in-game use, they tend to feel chunky and slow. I’m happy to say Heroes of Ruin breaks that mold firmly and triumphantly. I want to start by saying that Heroes of Ruin is no Crysis in terms of how it looks, but it does look remarkably better than the vast majority of DS games I’ve played in the past. The models seem fluid and the attacks really feel like the flow together and that you’re not just mashing buttons, but rather your character is responding the specific commands that you give it. In addition to the well-executed player models, the maps you traverse look equally as pleasing. Regardless of the fact that I sometimes found myself getting lost or thinking I could travel somewhere I ultimately couldn’t the maps were well done. For the most part, the path you were supposed to follow was clearly depicted in a manner that made levels relatively straightforward to complete.
Though not directly graphically related, I want to touch on the effectiveness of the interface for the game, such as the use of dual screen nature of the system, as well the use of the 3D functionality inherent in the 3DS. Aside from constantly trying to use the joystick when I should have been using the D-Pad (they each control the top and bottom screens respectively), the UI and control scheme that went along with it was fairly simple and easy to understand. All the stats for armor and whatnot were very clearly laid out and readily available, and your item inventory was always extremely accessible. Upon leveling up, a small button would appear on the screen that you could tap and commence the leveling process where you add points various major stat areas and pick abilities to learn or level up. This entire process was painless, something other RPGs have failed miserably at, and user friendly to the point that it really needed little to no explanation aside from what stats or abilities actually did. While not all of the above is completely graphics for Heroes of Ruin, it’s plain to see that the way the UI was done made the execution of these core aspects of the game smooth and efficient. As for the 3D capabilities of Heroes of Ruin, playing with this feature active really makes you feel like you’re looking down on what’s happening on the screen. I have to say, it’s an extremely unique and satisfying feeling to see these giant turtle enemies spring out of nowhere only to be sent flying out of the viewable area.
The soundtrack for this game fits the theme and esthetic of the game spot on. Even though it’s nothing to write home about, it does its job and helps add to the overall atmosphere Square Enix is trying to create with the areas in this game.
Heroes of Ruin is by no means the most innovative game ever made, but it does a lot of things right. The gameplay is smooth and enjoyable and has a decent amount of replayability due to the heavy push for multiplayer. The graphics are much better than one would expect from a 3D handheld title. Overall a great game and something I think action RPG fans could enjoy when away from their main consoles.