Square Enix London and n-Space have finally launched Nintendo 3DS’ flagship RPG title, Heroes of Ruin.
On the surface, everything looks in check – medieval magical heroes? Check. Quest system? Check. Lots of reading and a bunch of voiced cut scenes? Check.
But what, if anything, separates it from the other flurry of top-down RPG titles currently available?
Heroes of Ruin is deceptively complex. Its story follows you, the player – one of four available classes and is essentially a mercenary – who gets roped into traveling the world in hopes to save a Ruin Lord – Ataraxis, ruler of the city of Nexus.
Nexus becomes a hub world – your portal to all your quests, item stores, StreetPass hits and NPCs. It’s also where most of the story churns out, presented in various different styles like real-time cut scenes and voiced narrations. The city itself doesn’t really feel as lively as what one would expect from a game like World of Warcraft – it’s closer to the static hustle and bustle from a game like Monster Hunter Tri.
Thankfully, then, Nexus only serves as a port to all your dungeon crawling goodness. Armed with your quests, you will embark into various themed dungeons filled with monsters, hidden rooms and loot. Oh yes, the loot.
n-Space have managed to cram in over 650,000 unique items into the game, which are dropped either randomly or pre-set. If you want to get the best gear for your customisable character, you will have to complete dungeons multiple times.
Thankfully, this is the fun part – dungeons can be completed with up to three other players online. The online feature is surprisingly smooth, even in 3D – though there is marginal frame rate reduction once you kick on the extra dimensions. It’s hardly noticeable because you will instantly be in awe of the beauty of playing a top-down RPG game in 3D. How did we manage to play these things in 2D before?!
Dungeons are dynamic based on the amount of players, too. If someone joins your game, monsters will be harder to kill – so you will actually be forced to work as a team if you want to get through the level. I cannot praise the online component of Heroes of Ruin enough – because it’s so unobtrusive.
Suppose you were mid-game and decided to leave. Simple; just save and quit. Your friend might not be there when you get back, but you will be in the same spot you left off. This means that even if your friend goes ahead and completes his quests, you wont miss out when you log back in – this almost sounds like a bad thing, but it means you wont miss out on key story progression and awesome items.
Online multiplayer also has voice chat, which you can turn off completely, turn on only for friends, use it in a “free speak” setting or a “push to talk” mode. The sound quality varies depending on the connection, but it does the job fairly well.
Heroes of Ruin also comes with an online social network where you can track your progression and see how you stack up against other players. This is linked to your game on HeroesofRuin.com.
Leveling up your character – as in most RPGs – is what your life will be dedicated to. You will be able to choose one of four classes, each with various different skills to learn. The more monsters and quests you defeat, the more experience you will get. Leveling up gives you the ability to purchase a new skill, which means you can customise your character however you like. It’s more simple than, say, Final Fantasy, but is still quite involved.
Throughout the game, you will recieve special quests via SpotPass – these are special daily or weekly quests with various rules (like “Kill 20 enemies with 2 other players”) – completing them gives you coins, which you can spend in the games store, or use to buy other players items they send via SpotPass. Coins are also found throughout the dungeons, so don’t worry if you can’t complete the online quests!
All said, there simply aren’t many negatives to report on Heroes of Ruin. Sure, the graphics are hardly what one would consider “next generation” by any means, but they are clean, crisp, pretty and do the task nicely.
You will be hard pressed to find a better RPG title on Nintendo 3DS right now, Heroes of Ruin raises the bar very high for future handheld dungeon crawlers.