E3 2011: Ruin Hands-On Preview

We play through a demo of this action role-playing game for the PlayStation 3 and Vita, as well as talk with its designer.


Warrior's Lair

Following Sony's E3 2011 press conference, where we were afforded our first look at Ruin, we had an opportunity to get our hands on both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game. As detailed in the preview linked above, Ruin is an action role-playing game that's viewed from a traditional isometric perspective. As such, we found it extremely easy to pick up; you move with the left analog stick, you block with the right shoulder button, and you use the four face buttons to perform two regular attacks (light and heavy) and two special attacks. The special attacks will presumably be quite different depending on which class you play as; for us, they were a powerful dash forward and a ground slam that appeared to damage not only every enemy on the screen but also a good deal of the scenery.

The demo level that we played through took only five minutes or so to clear of enemies, but it wasn't a cakewalk. In addition to the ghoulish enemies that did little more than shamble toward us, there were magelike enemies throwing fireballs and a couple of much larger beasts. The latter had a nasty habit of opening their mouths and blowing us away from them, making it difficult to land any melee attacks and incredibly satisfying to see an animation of us ramming our weapon down their throats when we beat them.

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Sadly, some of Ruin's most intriguing gameplay features are those that are only being talked about right now. For example, in addition to a Story mode, Ruin will feature a competitive multiplayer component of sorts. You'll have a lair that you can upgrade and decorate using materials that you find in dungeons, and outside of it, you'll have your own dungeon that other players must battle through if they want to get a look at your lair. It doesn't sound like you'll get to manually design your dungeon, but its features and layout will be influenced by decisions that you've made concerning your lair, as well as perhaps by materials and treasures that you've found.

Both your lair and dungeon will require maintenance of some kind, and they will deteriorate if you don't play regularly. That's one of the reasons why Ruin's cloud support is so crucial; you can play the game in short bursts while riding the bus, sit down for hours playing on your PS3 at home, or do both and always have the option to pick up exactly where you left off. You'll be rewarded with materials and such not only when you play yourself, but also anytime other players attempt to make it through your dungeon. The more lives they lose, the larger your share of the swag will get as theirs shrinks. All multiplayer interactions will be mutually beneficial, so it'll be in your best interests to get some rivalries going with other players and to have a dungeon that offers them an enjoyable challenge.

The PS3 and Vita versions of Ruin are more or less identical at this point, but we're told that the game may well end up taking advantage of some of the Vita's unique control functions. The touch screen might be used instead of the right analog stick to fling fireballs, for example. We look forward to finding out what the future has in store for Ruin and to bringing you more information on the game in the coming months.

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