Square Enix is a name that always gets RPG fans a little excited. Its track record with past titles, such as the Final Fantasy series, has built them an undeniable legacy. Square Enix's latest outing, Heroes of Ruin, offers an extensive, top down view hack and slash, with a smattering or RPG elements. Players will traverse the fictional land of Veil, a realm with enough action to keep the budding adventurer or seasoned veteran happy. Heroes of Ruin is a game of substance, one that players can pour more than a few hours into, which is usually difficult to find on the 3DS.
Players are offered one of four character types in the form of the Vindicator, a sword wielding Lion Man; the Gunslinger, a human brandishing two side arms, the Alchitech, an elven wizard; and the Savage, who fights with his fists. A character’s appearance can be altered with a limited set of options for the face, but this is slightly pointless as the view for the majority of the game is top down. The only option of any real use is to choose one of six colours for the character’s clothing, as this helps to identify oneself in co-op game play.
The story for Heroes of Ruin isn’t especially enthralling or spectacular, but it’s solid enough to keep players looking towards completion. The task is to find a cure for the ruler of the city of Nexus, which is the hub of the adventure. There are several points on the map of Nexus from which adventurers can transport to other areas to complete missions. Missions only open up as players complete them in sequence, but will need to double back to cover all of the quests available. There is no real difference when playing through with different characters.
The narrated cut scene graphics work well in 3D mode, but are rather lacklustre if viewed only in 2D. In-game graphics are nothing spectacular, but hold their own and don’t detract from the gameplay. Navigating menus and the inventory is handled through the touch screen very effectively, backed up by the X, Y, A and B buttons. Access to the Quest Log, Inventory and Skill tree is also via the touch screen, with icons flashing when new equipment, tasks or skills are available. The map displayed by the touch screen almost gives away too much. Exclamation marks signal a player’s next task or important waypoint.
The best thing to emerge from this title is that players not only have the option to tackle this game by themselves, but also have the ability to take the battle online, with either friends or strangers. Players have the ability to offer up any extra loot they may be carrying to their online cohorts. And of course, there is enough loot to sink a ship, perhaps even an armada. Finding treasure in the field is, as always, not the only way to kit out a hero, and there are specific merchants for each class located in Nexus. It’s quite possible players will find themselves unable to carry any more items, and unable to sell gear as their coin purse is crammed full.
Communication with online companions is facilitated by pressing and holding the left shoulder button, which enables the game’s built-in voice chat. There is always the risk of coming across the annoying little voices of those same 11 year old know-it-alls from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Unfortunately there is no way of muting these self-proclaimed subject matter experts. Online play does have a major flaw, though it could arguably also be considered a benefit. Players can venture out with a group to complete a task, not even lift a finger to help cause, and still complete the mission. Of course playing the part of the fifth wheel won’t earn any XP through the course of the journey, but slackers still get the reward.
For those who seek out Achievements, Heroes of Ruin won’t disappoint. Not only are there a multitude of tasks to complete, but when players connect their accounts to the Heroes of Ruin website they will be offered daily and weekly challenges. These challenges offer a reward of XP. Achievements are updated regularly and when unlocked will appear against a player’s profile. There are many hidden tasks to earn XP in the site as well.
The sound quality for a 3DS games ranks up there, with the main theme in the vein of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack: dramatic and imposing. The voice actors have been well cast and no one comes across annoying, except that when lagging behind on a map the other players in the group are continually commanding a regroup to continue to the next level.
Having great online capabilities and four main character types to select from, Heroes of Ruin will keep players entertained both online and off for hours. This is a positive addition to the current, slightly uninspiring, Nintendo 3DS catalogue.