Heroes Of Ruin

Hero Uncomplex

Heroes Of Ruin oversimplifies what could have been a rich, multiplayer portable RPG.

By Steve Heisler • July 23, 2012

If you want a mouse to run through a maze, at the very least you need to stick some cheese at the end. It’s gotta be good cheese, too: no Kraft Singles, and none of that soy crap. A nice hunk of gruyere. A pungent stilton.

In the action role-playing game Heroes Of Ruin, you make your way through a few metaphorical mazes at once, each with what amounts to powdered, baseball game nacho cheese at the end. You travel to dungeons so repetitive and easy, there’s no thrill in conquering them; victory is almost an inevitability. You venture out with a randomly selected party of strangers—who steal most of the treasure—or you venture solo and keep the mediocre loot for yourself. And as the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that it’s an afterthought, relegated to cutscenes full of hollow fantasy that would make even the script writers of Skyrim cringe.

The game is promising at the start. Heroes are being summoned to Nexus, a once-thriving town in the center of Heroes’ fictional realm, to discover a cure for its ailing leader, Ataraxis. He’s a legendary lion-faced beast who once hobnobbed with elves and other mythical creatures, but now he’s hobbled and confined to the town square as healers cast spells to no avail. Your mission is to visit far-flung regions and ultimately revive Ataraxis to a full bill of health.

Heroes Of Ruin

There are coral reefs and arachnid-infested forests to explore, and there are town denizens to rescue from crumbling dungeons. But the expansive world of Heroes Of Ruin is far from open. Every time you conquer a corner of the realm, you have to travel back to Nexus and turn in your quests. To travel back out again, you talk to one of the town’s citizens, who transports you where you need to go, and only when it’s time. There’s no incentive to explore, nor is there really any opportunity to do so. (Even if you could, all the different regions look and act essentially the same.) The quests you receive adhere to a rigid schedule: You get one main quest and a few side ones per area, which can only be completed there and then. Quest selection isn’t a factor in customizing your experience; it’s essentially a mandate.

There is room for a bit of customization. The beginning of your quest has you choose one of four character types, like a burly Savage or a magic-happy Alchitect. The decision affects the weapons you can wield and the skills you can learn. The Gunslinger, for example, starts with a gunshot that covers a wide range and can a passive ability that makes bullets explode on contact.

You’ll be boosting your powers in no time, because Heroes Of Ruin is very, very easy. Almost mindlessly so. Not only do you begin worlds more powerful than almost all of the enemies (including the bosses, like a tentacled leviathan—just go with it), but you’re able to hold 20 potions each that restore your health and energy. There are roughly 80 potions found in each level.

Heroes Of Ruin

Plus, even though you can easily tackle levels solo, you rarely have to venture out alone. Heroes Of Ruin bills itself as one of the more “social” RPGs out there, and while it may be social in some sense of the word, it’s not exactly sociable. You’re able to form a party of strangers to help with dungeons, or join a game already in progress—always at the same point in the game you are. Or play with friends sitting in the same room as you. Regardless, the bigger the party, the more the treasure gets shared. “Sharing” might be too optimistic a word, though: After hours of playing, I’ve yet to come across someone who wasn’t a hoarder, frantically racing to snag the new spaulders before I can. Not that it matters, since the game allows players to trade items with each other. Not that that matters. There are so many new pieces of equipment thrown at you that one piece hardly makes any difference.

The only conceivable solution to this treasure race is to travel with three people who are all of different types than each other, as most of the weapons and armor are made for specific classes only. The odds of this happening randomly are slim; the odds of finding three friends with Heroes Of Ruin are even slimmer.

Because although there are times when the game offers some mindless mudcrab-slaying, Heroes Of Ruin simply doesn’t provide enough enticement to play. Challenges are too simplistic, the world is too limiting, and multiplayer rewards the lone rangers, not the team. Given the mediocre cheese in the corners of this maze, forgive me if I don’t feel like running.

Heroes Of Ruin
Developer: n-Space
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $40
Rating: T

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399 Responses to “Hero Uncomplex”

  1. Merve says:

    I’m not sure if it’s a typo, but is an “Alchitect” someone who designs buildings with magical chemistry? Because that would be fucking awesome.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That is correct name for the class.  And while I agree with you that the idea is rad in concept, I think I’d feel real uneasy sitting in an office building made of a suspension of silver nitrate and sodium chromate.  I mean, what surface would I put my “Hang in There!” poster on?

      • Electric Dragon says:

        Those quicksilver window frames sure take some getting used to. And whatever you do, be careful when looking into the mirrors in the bathrooms. What you see may not be your own reflection.

    • Xtracurlyfries says:


      (Although “Archimist” sounds better, IMO, and an “Alchitect” could also just be someone who designs buildings and drinks waaaay too much).

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      Alchitect – the Game

      Design spacious and energy efficient housing for the masses, insure that its pH level balances with the neighborhood, strike an aesthetically and economically pleasing balance of the subtle and the gross, and achieve eternal life in the process.

      “I’m an Alchitect because I really care about the interaction between people and the spaces they inhabit.  All the gold is just a side bonus.”

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    If Square Enix wanted to truly maximize the Dungeon-Crawl potential of this game, they’d make the bottom screen a virtual mouse you could click on with the stylus.

    Tap tap tap.

    Click click click.

  3. RidleyFGJ says:

    It seems like the typical game from n-Space, who you may know best as the guys behind the Gamecube, err, “classic” Geist: good ideas, some of them occasionally well implemented (as is the case for this game’s seamless co-op integration, with or without friends), but mostly a lot of wasted potential and features frequently ugly graphics and tech.

  4. caspiancomic says:

    Oh Square Enix. I know you didn’t develop this, so you will only get a partial tongue lashing, but really. When was the last time an agreed-upon unmissable RPG that blew the roof off and had everyone talking about it at recess came out of that company? Don’t get me wrong, there have been good Square Enix games in the last ten years or so, but once upon a time they were knocking it out of the park every year.

    Also, I was going to say something snide about loot-minded dungeon crawlers, but I guess I did just put 31 hours into The Binding Of Isaac, so I haven’t really got a leg to stand on.

  5. Electric Dragon says:

    That monster in the main picture looks as if he was at the end of a Fred Astaire dance routine when the hero comes up and tries to wallop him.