Take a little DBZ and throw in some chaos and some Rogue-like elements and you’ve got Ruin of the Reckless.
When I think about the definition or purpose of Rogue-likes as a genre, two things come to mind. One is obviously the enjoyment of making the best out of an unpredictable situation. Examples of this include finding Guppy’s head for transformation in the Binding of Isaac or getting that Laser MkIII in FTL. Then you have the bad situations like random traps in Spelunky or watching your party go nuts in Darkest Dungeon. These dynamic situations are what make Rogue-likes enjoyable, replayable, and addictive. The second thing is obviously, random items, environments and that checklist of procedural generated so and so.
In most regards, Ruin of the Reckless(Steam) hits the mark quite well on both and puts you in these situations at break neck speeds. You are constantly in the process of kicking some serious butt, reaping rewards, or running for your life as a horde of monsters chases you. The problem I had was that maybe it does this a bit too fast.
First, lets talk about basics.
Ruin of the Reckless is a melee focused top down action rogue-like. Think Nuclear Throne/Relic Hunter Zero but with no guns. The story is a light element of the game but does have moments of dialogue that I enjoyed. You are a lost soul who must fight his way to the top of a tower in the hopes of receiving a wish. Whether or not such a thing exists and what it is you would wish for are the main questions. Other spirits and specters are all that stand in your way and they will do anything to stop you. You have very few allies and not much equipment to start.
I cannot underline enough how much I appreciated the tutorial in this particular title. Ruin of the Reckless features many elements, powers, spells, and consumables that take some time to wrap your head around. To break it down as simply as possible, you have a spell slot, weapon slot, power slot, item slot, boots slot, and finally an accessory slot. The game does a really good job of explaining what all these do and how they work.
While you may only attack things in melee range, you have plenty of other tools that can hit from afar. Keep in mind, most of these tools have a finite use. You may have a book of fireballs that only lasts forty or so charges before going poof. Your power slot is something that requires a charge and isn’t quickly used. This keeps everything focused on that melee idea. Your boots let you dash in and around combat at high speeds with varying effects depending what you have equipped.
This all culminates in to some rather fast paced and explosive battles, as you dodge, swipe, shoot lightning, and power dash through a group of enemies.
The game highly recommends playing with a controller and I couldn’t agree more. Thankfully all keys/gamepads are rebindable allowing you to play exactly how you wish. During gameplay I didn’t experience any issues with movement, but there are times responsiveness in attacking didn’t move as fast as I would like. This is probably intentional though.
Outside of combat, you have your usual shop scenario every couple of levels. You can spend Zenny(cash) to buy upgrades, items, and Chaos cards. Cards are by far the thing that I loved most about Ruin of the Reckless. In the main lobby lies the chaos board which lets you change the rules of the game in minor or major ways.
The gist is this, green cards help you, blue cards are a double edged sword, and red cards are for those looking to make things even harder then they are. There are also class cards that let you change your starting gear before heading up the tower. Cards really enhances the complexity of playing the game on top of the awesome combat. Two of my favorite cards were “Hero you need” which summons an ally when your health is low. The “Demon” card gives you extra loot but you are also being hunted, which makes you feel paranoid. I wished there were way more cards in the game to be honest, as this the only true feeling of progression I felt while playing.
My gripe is with how level design and progression actually work in the game. The game is constantly pushing you to move forward through the levels quickly, even going so far as putting a timer on each level which once it runs out, these orbs begin coming at you and can one-shot you. This isn’t usually a problem but playing carefully just isn’t going to happen. This leads to problems such as, you only have five hit points when starting out, this doesn’t allow much room for error. Healing items are rare and getting hit multiple times in a row is easy.
The monsters themselves can become very overwhelming and the game does have some serious difficulty spikes that come out of nowhere. One enemy literally pops out of the ground and almost always took one of my hit points away, as well as my weapon. The difficulty spikes were such a problem, I equipped every green card I had and would still die randomly. This lead to progression and level design feeling like a chore, as your only task is to find a key and move up to the next level before some random shot kills you. Bosses suffer from the same problem, as there is no randomization in their appearance. I can’t help but feel different objectives, aesthetics, and changing up the boss occasionally would’ve made this far less of a grind.
It should be mentioned that Ruin of the Reckless is a co-op game and even on the Steam page recommends bringing a friend. It’s seems quite possible the game is more suited to that, then single player. Which is a bummer, because I would love to play this more in depth myself.
Visually, Ruin of the Reckless has some stunning pixel art, animations, and sprites.
Easily, item design and sprites are what shine here the most. Enemies are fascinating looking and drew my eye to them. The “Demon” that hunted me scared the bejeezus out of me when he first appeared. The one boss I did face was an impressive sight as she flew across my screen. Level design could do a with a bit of more detail. After a while they just all blended together and I started to ignore the environments, just looking for loot, traps or the key.
Most of the powers and spells have a great intensity to them but I found sometimes the melee weapons lacked a bit of oomph when it came to the animation. Just a minor gripe and certainly doesn’t really matter when your knee deep in enemies and explosions. Speaking of explosions it seems like everything is laced in gasoline and I loved that.
Continuing the high velocity theme of Ruin of the Reckless. I have to give massive kudos to the soundtrack. The best way to describe the soundtrack is like musical Redbull. It gets you pumped and puts a smile on your face as you begin kicking massive butt. Even in defeat and starting over and over the music was still fun and never got tiresome. Other than my minor issues with some weapons, the sound effects were explosive and what they needed to be.
Judging replay value is going to vary given its Rogue-like features. I will say that Ruin of the Reckless is fast, very fast. You may burn yourself out if you don’t pace yourself. I really think they need to add more bosses or maybe even mini-bosses. The weapon/item randomization will hold your interest for a while though. Currently Steam achievements/cards are not listed on the Steam page but I imagine that might change as the game marches toward final release on April 26th. Ruin of the Reckless is made quite well and I never ran into any bugs or anything that would prevent me from enjoying the game.
To wrap up, I love Rogue-likes and there is great execution here when it comes to insane combat. The idea of a melee focused Rogue-like is always going to get my recommendation. Maybe a Kamehameha would be the cherry on top. The chaos board is a gate to infinite possibility by screwing with the rules of the game. I see so much potential in that feature alone. The developer seems quite active on the Steam forums which is usually a positive sign. Coming in at the indie standard of $14.99/£10.99 its not too bad on the pocket book either.
Just heed the advice of the Steam page, “Play with a friend!”