REVIEW – RONIN

RoninDR

Devolver Digital | PC, Mac, Linux | Available Now

With vengeance as your motivator and a blade in your hand, you seek to end lives… for some reason we don’t quite know.

You play as the unnamed heroine who is a master hacker and combat specialist by some mysterious uninformed way out to murder five leaders of a corporation. There clearly is a story here, but unless you buy the digital comic to find out, you’re stuck with this as your plot.

Instead, RONIN’s selling point lies in its genre as a “turn‐based action platformer”.

Let’s be honest – how often do you hear about turn-based games and don’t immediately assume they’re an RPG or Strategy game? Well, in a way, RONIN is a strategy game. When you’re not in combat, you have free-flow movement. You can move around, jump, climb walls and ceilings, and use a grappling hook-like tool to swing around like Spiderman in a motorcycle helmet. You’ll crash through windows, similar in concept to GUNPOINT (which the game closely resembles – honestly thought it was made by Tom Francis.) and slip through the darkness evading civilians (which you are penalized for killing.) and striking out at your enemies.

It’s when the enemy knows you’re there that the game takes a drastic and interesting turn – time stops. You have all the time in the world to plan your attacks, one by one, but once you make a move, so do your opponents’ right afterwards. Enemy attacks are predicted via red lines, so you can easily get out of line of fire more often than not. You can stun enemies by knocking them over (sometimes to hilarious results), and you can over-arc your jump so that the jump arc turns red – this indicates that your jump will take two turns to finish. You will actually stop at the end of the white line – this can be used to strategically place yourself in midair to avoid gunfire.

RONINDR1Guard targeting player using prediction lines.

The enemies are very generic, ranging from people with pistols, machine guns, and other swordsmen. The only other enemy is the unarmed guard – his job is to fail one of your three primary objectives.

In every mission, you are either:

Hacking Terminals / Killing Major Enemy
Kill all enemies / Spare Civilians
Do not get detected.

This last objective relates to the unarmed guard – he will attempt to lockdown the facility. Every opponent in the game will do this if they see you and you run away, so you do not have long to react – a countdown will start from 8 to 0. If you do not reappear or knock down / kill the unarmed guard, that mission will fail. This is paramount, because the ONLY way you get skill points to upgrade your abilities is from completing missions flawlessly. There’s no prize for second best, here.

The abilities you unlock vary in terms of usefulness. Once you unlock the “teleport to enemy” ability, combos get complicated and a lot of fun.

Overall, RONIN drove me to fits of rage when one misstep will force you restart your entirely carefully constructed kill-pattern, but dragged me back with the promise of “this time, I’ll get it right!” and that works for a simple game like this. RONIN succeeds as a thought-provoking, turn-based action platformer.

You will not be disappointed with the action and game mechanics, but if you were looking for a story, unless you plan to give them extra money for the digital comic, you’re going to find yourself disappointed.

PROS
Gameplay
Nostalgic 16-Bit GUNPOINT style graphics

CONS
Story is behind a pay-wall
Unsatisfying Ending

VERDICT: DigiRapSkullDigiRapSkullDigiRapSkullDigiRapSkullHalf

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