I’ve bleated on loads of times now about how much I like a good, fast-paced, twin stick shooters with loads of power-ups, explosions and general chaos. When I saw Ruiner for the first time I was hyped because it appeared to be everything I look for in a substantial twin-stick adventure. I was wrong though, because Ruiner is not just a twin stick controlled action game, it’s more than that, a lot more.

Ruiner is brought to us by Reikon Games, who are based in Poland and founded back in 2014. Their credentials are very impressive, they’ve worked on games such as The Witcher 1 – 3, Dead Island and also Dying Light, that’s some impressive CV right there.

Ruiner is a top-down action game with hints of Cyber Punk and Anime all thrown into one, adult-themed combination of brutality and mayhem. The art style for the game is amazing and utilises a comic book style approach. Everything seems to be a variation of red even down to the lighting, I suppose it represents blood or something.

You start off with a nice and concise tutorial explaining how to operate the protagonist who, by the way, is just a psychotic killer on a mission to find his brother and kill the boss. The first few minutes pretty much sums up what Ruiner is all about and it’s clear that your character is insane. He wears a face mask that has his intentions written on the front, this changes depending on the situation but for the most part it says ‘kill’ on it. The story isn’t deep or that interesting to be fair, so I won’t bother you with all that, when all is said and done it’s the action we all want, right?

The control system is pretty easy to get to grips with and you will have to use everything in order to get by. There is a mixture of dashes, slashes and shooting to be done and mastered in order to get through because, on the whole, this game is not easy, good but not easy. You have a basic load-out of a small handgun and a piece of piping for the melee kills. Enemies do drop weapons you can readily collect, however, these have a limited amount of ammo and you quickly return to your basic gun.

As with just about every game nowadays there is an XP system called Karma, you collect Karma by completing bounties and missions but also by breaking open boxes etc. placed around each level. When you level up you’re granted skill points and the ability to place them and take them away as you see fit, allowing to build a character that best suits you. There is the chance to perform combos, however, the enemies don’t come fast enough to be able to create spectacular ones, with that said though the slow-motion effect makes you look like a complete badass and gives you that sense that you’re untouchable. When I say untouchable that’s just for that moment, because as I said, Ruiner is not easy and the death animation is something you’ll soon become used to, like it or not.

There are however, sometimes when you think you’re being hard done by, because on occasion I wandered into the next area only to be met by a trap that completely annihilated me. I basically stood no chance. It’s not all Dark Souls difficulty though, you get the odd lifeline. At various points Gif’s appear that are little floating robots and they drop health, energy and sometimes the odd weapon, indeed a welcome sight on a difficult sub-boss.

Like all twin-stick shooters there is a certain point where you lose track of what’s happening down to how much is happening on-screen, this goes as well for Ruiner. At times I found myself moonwalking into an enemy with my shield facing the wrong way, this is not a gripe but more a warning to keep a sharp eye because you need to move or you’re dead, so make sure you move in the right direction. Ruiner has a very healthy amount of stuff to do, the main game is short in comparison to most but you can jump in and out as you please, especially if the pressure gets a little too much for you. I’m a big fan of games where you can jump in and out for 10 minutes or an hour depending on your mood, Ruiner provides just that and you can still make good progress.

Ruiner is a must, I strongly recommend if this genre takes your fancy. My twin stick biased opinion aside, Ruiner offers the right amount of difficulty mixed with the right amount of mature brutality and a sprinkling of RPG mechanics that makes for the most insane, psychopathic cake you can imagine. Ruiner also has a soundtrack that complements it superbly; there’s a techy underground experimental sense behind the music that fits perfect but at times can get a bit over powering, especially if you’re dying a lot.

Thanks to Reikon and Xbox for supporting TiX