LadiesGamers Lone Ruin

Lone Ruin Review

Game: Lone Ruin
Genre: Action
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Cuddle Monster Games | Super Rare Games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $14.99 | UK £12.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: January 12th, 2023

Review code provided with many thanks to Super Rare Games.

The Lone Wanderer

Lone Ruin is an isometric twin-stick shooter with an arcade kick to it. Developed by the adorably titled Cuddle Monster Games and published by the lovers of physical media, Super Rare Games, Lone Ruin is currently available digitally only, but that is likely to change in the future. If you’re looking for a satisfying arcade title in the roguelike genre, this is not a bad way to kick off the new year. 

You play as a mysterious explorer seeking an ancient power hidden in a ruined city now inhabited by monsters. I guess simply walking through a lost city, examining the fascinating architecture and taking in the scene wouldn’t make for the most interesting video game. Or would it (the reviewer scribbles notes down for their own game ideas later). If you’re an arcade fan, there are plenty of monsters to dispatch with your magical spells.

There’s not a lot of information provided about the game’s story. A quick introduction cutscene presents the lead protagonist, and the game concludes with an equally quick-to-point cutscene. If you want more depth, you might want to take a trip to the eShop to read up on a more detailed description of what’s happening. But if you are a gameplay-focused gamer, you’ll be pleased to hear you jump into this one instantly.

LadiesGamers Lone Ruin
It is deadly to point.

Fast Arcade Action 

Lone Ruin follows the familiar formula of an action roguelike. Move from room to room, dispatching waves of enemies before collecting an upgrade. Once the room is clear, you are given a choice of two doors to exit through, with a preview of what item will be obtained hovering above the door frame. Depending on how your run is going, you may want to pick the door that rewards health or maybe the one that rewards an upgrade to your weapons. The choice is yours, and with each run being randomly generated, sometimes the gaming odds will be in favour and sometimes not. But it’s this uncertainty that does entice one to try again even after failing multiple runs. 

LadiesGamers Lone Ruin
Can I not have a sword?

Tight Controls

Controls are tight for a twin-stick shooter. Your character points with their finger and shoots spells literally from their finger, which is pretty cool! When you begin a run, you are given the opportunity to choose a starting spell. Using some wooden dummies, you can test out each spell in the starting room to see which clicks. The does encourage you to try different starting weapons on repeat plays by providing random upgrades to some of the spells.

As well as your starting weapons, you also have a handy dash move to move out of harm’s way, or at least try to. It won’t be long before you unlock additional spells and perks, some of which won’t be available at the start of the game. If you don’t like a spell or find something better, you can sell it instantly for coin. This can be used at shops to purchase perks, health or another spell.

Waves of Baddies

The gameplay is fast, so having quick reactions will help conquer the waves of baddies. The gameplay feels smooth and very easy to pick up and play, feeling quite accessible even if you’re new to the genre. Three difficulty modes are on offer to allow you to tailor the game to your desired skill. If you tire of the main campaign, a survival mode is also available for as long as possible to take on wave after wave of monsters.

This is a solid pick-up-and-play arcade game, but there are a few niggles. There isn’t really anything to unlock in the game after a run, kinda limiting the game’s replay value once you have seen the game to its conclusion. Your only real incentive to replay is to try and top your high score, which is not a feature that will appeal to everyone. Things are kept pretty to the point here, though I found it refreshing that this is a roguelike with no experience system in place. Allowing the player to improve their skills naturally by playing. 

LadiesGamers Lone Ruin
Which way to go?

Neon Shine

The city you explore is dark and grim, feeling like a lost ruin, but it’s brought to life with some neon flare making the tone feel dark but lively. The neon tone will adjust after a major boss fight, but the level design and environments feel very similar throughout the game. To accompany the action, you have a rather loud and excitable drum and bass-like soundtrack, which rocked my eardrums to the point I decided to turn it off. Sorry, not my thing, but if you are a child of the 90s, you may get a nostalgia kick from it. There is a good variety of enemy and boss designs which suit the tone.

While they appear to bleed neon pixels, I still felt the overall tone was suitable for all audiences. The game’s performance was pretty good in TV and handheld modes, even with many enemies on screen at once. I encountered an odd glitch where I fell through the floor, and the enemies wandered around the level, just looking confused. The game also crashed to the Switch dashboard on a couple of occasions. None of this interfered with the overall experience, but hopefully, they will be patched in the future. 

LadiesGamers Lone Ruin
Deadly nature

Conclusion – Pick Up and Spell 

Lone Ruin is a decent arcade roguelike, but it did leave me wanting a bit more. With only three main boss fights and nothing to really unlock during the game, it feels a little light on content. What does save it, though, is its solid gameplay, which made me come back, repeatedly, to try out new spells and jump into some instantly satisfying action. If you’re new to the action roguelike, this is a good place to start. If you’re well versed in the genre, consider this a solid pick-up and play arcade title, just maybe not the best compared to the competition.

Final Verdict: I Like it

I like it

One comment

  1. I am back and forth on this game. For some reason I have trouble picking up smaller enemies, and it would be nice to have dash invincibility considering it has a cool down etc as standard. I keep jumping back to it, but something feels off.

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