Old-school RPGs are such a simple joy in the indie gaming scene and with that in mind, allow me to present the charming Ruinverse.
Earlier this year, I played and reviewed Miden Tower which I absolutely loved and Ruinverse is a very similar game as it features many of the same gameplay formulas including its battle system. However, it's not really a sequel or prequel; at least, not that I'm aware of so I assume that it's merely by the same developers who adapted their gameplay for a whole new adventure. Anyway, you play as Kit who's a kind-hearted transporter with a passion for gardening. His childhood friend is Allie and she just happens to have another soul inside of her named Alvyn who contrasts with her otherwise good-natured and spirited personality. Together, they're joined by an elf named Lexor, a beast named Toto, and a dwarf named Nana and each character brings a lot of personality and humour to the journey ahead.
Like with most KEMCO published RPGs, Ruinverse is bursting with lighthearted fun and humour that makes each dialogue scene enjoyable to watch. Plus, the mystery of deciphering ancient stone monuments on your way to help Allie become her true self adds a healthy dose of motivation to the adventure. I also enjoyed the fact that your party consists of 4 distinct races as that creates a well-rounded dynamic between each character interaction. This plays a big part in battle, too, because each party member is capable of a unique array of abilities that makes working together the key to success. Whether you're summoning a helpful creature to assist you in battle, taking advantage of elemental magic, or giving your allies a boost; there's a great deal of strategy and variety within the battle system. Seeing as both allies and enemies are laid out on grids and skills can affect certain areas, things become even more complex.
Ruinverse's overall adventure consists of doing what you'd expect; traversing dungeons and the world map, setting up your party at town, and reading dialogue-based story sequences. First, the dungeons are fairly large and varied and although there aren't many puzzles or similar mechanics, I enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny while finding all sorts of treasures and levelling up my party. Speaking of which, there are lots of different ways to enhance your capabilities such as equipping new armour, helmets, accessories, weapons, and weapon skins, unlocking active and passive skills in character-specific trees, harvesting items from an Avalonia Tree, planting stat boost items in a garden, clearing achievement-style missions and playing a roulette mini-game for bonuses, and configuring strategies and a Magic Circle in order to gain an advantage over your enemies. There are even subquests and missions to master for more goodies, too.
On the downside, with so many ways to optimize your party and the fact that you can trade Angel Tears for powerful goods makes Ruinverse a rather unchallenging game. I didn't even spend much time with these systems and the difficulty still wasn't all that satisfying. Even when a boss was a bit challenging, I could simply tinker around with this or that for a bit and defeat it easily on my next attempt. Another issue is that the sound effects are kind of flat. I want to hear gratifying weapon thwacks and magic explosions when I battle but most of what you hear isn't much more than a thud. Finally, I wish that Ruinverse had its own completely unique gameplay. Considering it's so close to Miden Tower, I occasionally got déjà vu while playing it. I hope the devs make something more unique next.
Ruinverse is bursting with a charming cast of characters in an easy-to-follow story and its campaign is filled with old-school RPG fun. The end result is a rewarding albeit sometimes disappointingly unchallenging adventure that you'll ultimately be glad you went on.
- + Tight retro RPG gameplay with enjoyable battles and dungeons
- + Lively characters and simple story
- + Lots of character growth options
- - Could use more distinct mechanics to help set it apart from similar RPGs
- - Audio effects aren't all that satisfying
- - Overall lack of difficulty