"A Technological Marvel and a Creative Throwback"
It's astounding how much mobile technology has evolved over the past decade. Portable gaming consoles have done especially well reaping this technological harvest. Back in 2002, handheld multiplayer gaming meant shackling several Game Boy Advances together via link cables to play a competitive 2D Zelda. Ten years later, you can play 3D RPGs like Heroes of Ruin with anyone on the planet, and even communicate with them via direct Voice Chat. What Heroes of Ruin accomplishes with the 3DS technology goes a long way to take a formulaic action-RPG design and make it a lucrative purchase.
If you've played Diablo or any of the thousands of games imitating Diablo, you should know what to expect from Heroes of Ruin. A fantasy kingdom is in trouble due to a curse placed upon its ruler, and a band of adventurers is called upon to save the day. You pick your character from four available classes: Vindicator, Gunslinger, Alchitect, and Savage, which are all fancy names for familiar archetypes like Warrior and Wizard, and go out on quests for people in the hub town of Nexus. Combat consists of mashing buttons repeatedly against hordes of randomly-generated monsters in order to get loot and experience for new moves. None of this is remotely unique, though the character and world designs are memorable, thanks in large part to the design work of comics artist Adi Granov.
The quality of Heroes of Ruin depends on the amount of people with whom you play the game. If you go through the title independently, it's a technically competent but formulaic action-RPG that puts you through familiar paces. Your affection for it will depend on the inherent thrill you get from repeatedly whomping monsters for loot, and it's not likely that the game will be particularly challenging (unless you restrain yourself from using the many, many life potions you acquire).
Once you finish the ten hours or so that it takes to complete the story mode, you can go back for randomly remixed versions of the experience, but it's unlikely that the single-player game will compete with other titles for your time. If you play online, however, the experience is drastically improved.
N-Space designed Heroes of Ruin around the multiplayer experience, and it's easily one of the best online titles for the 3DS. My experience finding a game was easy, and I had little trouble maintaining a connection with the server. The voice chat feature was especially effective, allowing me to chatter with the other players in real-time. Fighting against monsters was much more enjoyable with other human beings, and it was great trading loot with other players to acquire the best gear for my class. This might be fairly standard for modern console games, but it's still extremely impressive that a handheld system can provide such a comprehensive online experience. All you need are a 3DS, a headset, and a decent Wi-Fi connection to play with a world of button-mashing loot junkies.
GameDynamo's Score for Heroes of Ruin (3DS)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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