Published by Square Enix London, Heroes of Ruin was a 2012 action RPG that was released on the 3DS at a time when software had just started releasing at a steady rate and the handheld’s sales were picking up. It is looked back on fondly but at the time it received mediocre review scores and didn’t sell all that well. Many looked at Heroes of Ruin as a Diablo clone.
As a ‘diablo clone’, it featured online, had a leveling up system, and filled a niche on the 3DS as an accessible, fun, hack and slash that was easy to play through and was decent as a multiplayer experience as well. The story of the game alluded to a sequel or series of sequels that up to this point we have never received. Often termed one of the 3DS’s ‘hidden gems’ Heroes of Ruin has an addictive gameplay loop and if you’re a fan of Diablo and feel like playing your old 3DS, Heroes of Ruin could be a great choice.
Addictive Gameplay Loop
The game, similarly to the Diablo games, involves you creating a character from a series of classes, and fighting through dungeons in order to level up and build up your character. This simple system of video games has been around for decades, yet it remains as appealing as ever and still has a big audience. While the term ‘dungeon crawler’ is used for many different genres (turn-based RPGs, Zelda-likes, even the Pokemon games), action RPGs like Diablo are probably what most people think of when they hear the term.
For me, this kind of game gives you a sense of escapism, and there’s a direct positive correlation between putting time into the game, and your character becoming stronger and more powerful. This isn’t the case for a lot of other types of third or first-person, or isometric games. Obviously, it’s the RPG feature of ‘leveling up’ (although there are other ways a character can build up in many different games) that has this effect of meaning the time that you put in has a direct positive result, but you get the point.
Lack of Hack And Slash on 3DS
Back in 2012, I was keen to get a 3DS game to follow up the great remake of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and I had gone through a phase of playing old action RPGs like Dungeon Explorer, which was released years earlier on the original DS and PSP. I played both versions but, despite the ‘primitive’ graphics, preferred the DS version simply because it was more addictive. Now, I must say, Dungeon Explorer was a simple game and definitely lacked polish, yet it was still really addictive. It wasn’t turn-based, had a deep yet weird overworld and story, and had bad, yet strangely engaging music. There were similar games on the PSP, but the DS line, in particular, lacked ‘Diablo-like’ games.
Once Heroes of Ruin was released it took me an hour or so to get a grip on the controls and point allocation system, but then I plowed through the game in about 5 hours. Heroes of Ruin is an easy game, but it’s addictive and satisfying when you destroy a goblin, or wolf with a new weapon that you’ve just picked up. It doesn’t take long to become hooked.
The game has 4 or 5 ‘worlds’ each based on a theme. For example, there’s a forest realm, an ice realm, a sky realm, etc. Each has unique enemies and a few bosses. The enemy variety is great, and when you defeat an enemy they’ll usually drop health, and if you’re lucky an item. The items/weapons are unique to each class and you can share them with players that you’re playing with online.
In terms of story, the game is set in a medieval fantasy world where the protector of the city of Veil, a sphinx called Ataraxis, is dying and you must venture into the wilderness and complete quest’s to do what you can to save him. There are meant to be other ‘protector’ monsters in different parts of the land, but you never meet them, hence how there could be the possibility of a sequel. Overall the story isn’t bad, and I like the feeling of the world that the developers are trying to create. The music gives the hub town a nice atmosphere.
In terms of presentation, it’s standard action RPG choices and skill tree layout, although the polish of a Square Enix game is there. The menus are easy to navigate, and the classes of characters are varied. I almost always choose the Gunslinger, because the ability to attack from a distance opens up more options tactically, and just feels more fun. Also, the character of the Gunslinger looks the coolest.
The Alchitect also uses projectile weapons, but his/her attacks don’t feel as satisfying. The Savage is powerful but also awkward, and the Vindicator is the only character that has a sword, but his/her design is more similar to the Savage and his/her movement doesn’t feel as fluid or nimble as the Gunslinger or Alichitect. In terms of sound, the soundtrack is nice, and I always find myself replaying stages where I’ve liked the music, I do this with a lot of games, and it’s usually a sign the game is good when this happens I find.
The first game that got me into ARPGs or ‘Diablo clones’ was The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on the GBA. I feel that game is such a good package, represents the brand really well, and has a great, addictive gameplay loop. Again, another ‘Diablo clone’ is underrated and goes under the radar. But overall, Heroes of Ruin is a great game, and can now be picked up for pretty cheap. The new, unopened copy will only set you back about £25, and if you keep it like new it’ll probably be worth double that in two years when the 3DS eShop closes (it is also currently available on the eShop).
Personally, I’d love a sequel on the Switch where we get to explore more of the world of Veil. However, unfortunately, due to how poorly the game sold, I doubt we will ever get the sequel. If enough people voice their opinion to Square Enix on how they liked it back in the day, who knows though?