Hot­line Neo Mi­ami

PCPOWERPLAY - - Game // Review -

We­joke quite of­ten about the grim­dark fu­ture, but Ruiner takes it to such an ex­treme that we can’t help but laugh anew. Play­ers take the role of Puppy, a leather-clad, cy­ber­netic as­sas­sin with a screen for a face tasked with de­stroy­ing Heaven, a mega­cor­po­ra­tion that lives in lux­ury while ev­ery­one else in Rengkok is slaved to VR and used as cheap, dis­pos­able labour or en­ter­tain­ment. There’s also some­thing about Puppy’s brother be­ing missing or dead, and some other grim­dark grim­dark­ness that is pretty for­get­table. It’s all just an ex­cuse for play­ers to hack, stab, blud­geon and shoot their way through a num­ber of lev­els and boss battles on the path of re­venge, or jus­tice, or what­ever it is. If you thought Hot­line Mi­ami was a dark twin-stick shooter, you ain’t seen noth­ing.

While the ac­tual story may be for­get­table, the vis­ual de­sign of the game is any­thing but. It’s a beau­ti­ful look­ing world, in a dys­func­tional, bloody and misan­thropic kind of way. The stages them­selves are very dark, whether they be back al­leys or the walk­ways of an in­sane man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, but they are not with­out colour. Vi­brant reds, yel­lows and blues cut through the gloom, giv­ing a neon high­light to the oth­er­wise gloomy sur­round­ings. When com­bat starts, things be­come even more colour­ful, with ev­ery gun seem­ing to fire tracer bul­lets, and ev­ery dash or at­tack hav­ing a glow­ing trail. It looks fan­tas­tic, or at least it does for the first three or so hours of the six odd hour game. The game world never starts to look worse, but what it does do is start to look fa­mil­iar, as you fight through lev­els you’d swear you’d been through be­fore against en­e­mies that must have come from a cloning fac­tory.

Com­bat shines when Puppy comes up against a boss. Some come from the same cookie cut­ter as the min­ions, but oth­ers, like a mas­sive, multi-room con­struc­tion ro­bot are amaz­ing. Killing en­e­mies and bosses earns Puppy ex­pe­ri­ence to spend on var­i­ous skills or weapon up­grades, but it’s here that the de­vel­op­ers have let them­selves down again. Of all the skills, only one seems vi­tal - dash. Im­prov­ing the dash abil­ity gives more chances to avoid dam­age while in­flict­ing his own. Hav­ing elec­tri­cal grenades or weapon powerups just feel in­ci­den­tal by com­par­i­son. Luck­ily play­ers are en­cour­aged to re­spec their skill points on the fly, so none of the points ever feel per­ma­nently wasted.

De­spite the flaws and frus­tra­tion over rep­e­ti­tion and use­less skills, there is still some­thing mag­netic about Ruiner. It’s bru­tally, but not un­fairly hard. Easy dif­fi­culty is moder­ate for any other game, and moder­ate is pull-yourhair-out hard. En­e­mies move fast and with­out some se­ri­ous health and shield up­grades, Puppy is a rather squishy mur­der­bot. You rarely face less than a hand­ful of en­e­mies at a time, and try­ing to avoid at­tacks while adding your own red high­lights to the decor is a rather tense af­fair. Ev­ery time you die you feel the urge to try one more time, and ev­ery vic­tory be­comes a fist-pump­ing mo­ment.

fight through lev­els you’d swear you’d seen be­fore against en­e­mies from a cloning fac­tory

Add some blood or­ange to the grim­dark­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.