Lost Ruins Review

Gaming
6.5

Fair

Lost Ruins

Developer: Altari Games
Publisher: Dangen Entertainment
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: 13 May 2021 (PC) / 06 June 2022 (Consoles)
Price: $19.99 USD / $29.95 AUD – Available Here

Overview

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Lost Ruins – which is touted by its developer as a “survival 2D side-scroller” – was first released on PC more than a year ago. Lost Ruins bears a striking resemblance to Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight in its visuals, gameplay – albeit with a slower pacing – and monster girl centric themes. As part of its Kickstarter stretch goals, Lost Ruins was also recently released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch consoles along with some additional modes that enhance the game’s replayability.

Story

Lost Ruins story begins when an amnesiac schoolgirl awakens inside a dungeon located in what appears to be another world. This is a very overused trope in anime known as “isekai.” After wandering for a bit, the protagonist encounters a witch that informs the girl that she was summoned by some kind of cult to serve as sacrifice for the revival of the “Dark Lady.” The heroine’s only chance at surviving – and possibly getting back to her own world – is to defeat the members of this supposed cult so the spell can be undone.

Along her journey the nameless girl will encounter all sorts of messages left behind by other not so fortunate schoolgirls that give a bit more of insight on what kind of mess she got herself into. Other NPCs will ask for the heroine’s assistance which will trigger some more dialogues. Then, there are the so-called followers of the Dark Lady which at first glance are just other lost schoolgirls but with some loose screws.

Regardless, the story is pretty barebones with dialogues that try and fail to be funny or interesting. There are a couple of different endings and even a bonus mode that expands on the game’s lore and its characters. Even then, it’s not enough to hold my attention.

Gameplay

At first glance, Lost Ruins plays like your typical 2D metroidvania with players navigating through a 2D side scrolling environment while battling enemies, collecting items and solving some simple puzzles to advance. Right off the bat, players can choose between five different types of difficulty. The Recommended difficulty is, well, recommendable since harder modes will lock out some gameplay features and are best reserved for a second or third run. 

Differently from most traditional metroidvanias, the game’s pacing is deliberately slow. There is no dash or run button or any other manner of maneuvering besides a simple jump and an evading roll. The player can make use of two slots for weapons and two more for spells. There’s no basic attribute enhancements since the game doesn’t use a character leveling system. You can, however, enhance your HP or MP among other stats; this is done by equipping a piece of armor or an artifact in the appropriate slot.

The sheer amount of weapons, spells and equipment available enables the player to approach combat as they see fit; you can make a variety of combat builds focusing on spell casting, debuff infliction, raw physical damage or even mix things a bit. If you’re someone like me, you’ll want to experiment with builds as much as possible, but that’s very cumbersome to do. The game uses an archaic item management system which consists of opening a menu and swapping equipped items one by one. This adds an unnecessary layer of tedium, as this could be simply resolved by just adding slots where you could save your builds and a simple shortcut button to swap between loadouts as necessary.

Another point of contention in Lost Ruins is its lack of balance in regards to its combat. It’s commonplace to enter an area, take a hit from an enemy that inflicts some life-draining debuff, and then have a flying enemy that you didn’t see coming land the final blow. This isn’t much of a hindrance to progression as it’s irritating since there are a lot of checkpoints throughout the map. The same can’t be said about bosses as many of them are easily defeated. Even then, the game is still a fun little romp. There’s enough exploration and platforming to be had here, and the areas are varied enough for a game such as this one.

Visuals

Lost Ruins is entirely crafted using pixels with the exception of some CG art depicting the characters when they talk. The graphics are mostly pleasing to the eyes but a bit on the pixelated side. Sometimes it can get a bit confusing discerning traps from harmless background scenery, but nothing that gets in the way too much. The characters are mostly rendered with very simple pixel art, and they are also crudely animated with few exceptions. It’s kind of a mixed bag at some points, but it’s well done enough, especially when you consider the low-budgeted indie nature of the game. The most notable graphic prowess in Lost Ruins comes in the form of huge bosses that have very well defined sprites and excellently animated female “bouncy bits,” if you catch my drift. There are other sexually suggestive nuances spread throughout the game but it all feels much more comical than anything else.

Audio

Lost Ruins overall sound design is what you’d expect from a pixel indie game. The sound effects are nothing special, but they have enough quality to convey the weight of a heavy weapon hitting something for example. The soundtrack features some pleasant compositions that change from adventurous to ominous depending on the area that you’re currently exploring. Overall, the sound design adds positively to the experience.

Overall

Even though I had enough fun playing Lost Ruins, it’s impossible to ignore its many drawbacks. More avid 2D action/exploration fans should at least give Lost Ruins a try, as there is a demo currently available on consoles. Players looking for something more polished may want to look elsewhere.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

Lost Ruins is a decent 2D action game. Although It's slow pace and lack of polish may be a hard sell for those looking for something more sophisticated.
6.5

Fair

I have been playing video games for 36 years. I should be put in a museum by now, but here I am, writing about them.

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