Fancy some good old action adventure with a dash of ultra-violence? Well we have a treat for you. It seems many developers from Poland are keen to explore realms of the action genre I thought were long dead. CD Prokjet Red brought us the fantastic and bloody thirsty Witcher Trilogy, Flying Wild Hog brought us the brilliant reboot of Shadow Warrior and now we have what could be one of the most defining action games of the year by Reikon Games.

Here’s our thoughts on Ruiner, a title that says it all really.

You play as a nameless individual regarded often as puppy, a masked killer who's hell-bent on bringing pain, suffering and retribution to those who kidnapped his brother. With the aid of a lone hacker named “Her”, Ruiner will explore the Rengkok city from its brooding underbelly to the highest skyscraper known simply as Heaven. What’s in store for our vigilante is a journey of bloodshed, deception and mass murder which explores interesting themes of pain, control and corruption. Nice!

Ruiner offers an enthralling action experience centred in a beautifully crafted cyberpunk world with a high amount of detail, design and polish. The environments are expertly crafted with an immense amount of depth that elevates the sense of world building. Organic features such as dynamic lighting, fire and water used in the game just add to immersive factor along with creating an intense atmosphere through a cleaver use of colour and lighting.

Ruiner’s visual presentation is a true spectacle in every calibre that truly immerses you while its vibrant animation style gives Ruiner a strong identity for its narrative tone. One of the most impressive aspects of Ruiner by far is the fantastic soundtrack. This alone is worth buying the game with a collection of impressively crafted songs that feel perfect for the experience. Each song is strangely hypnotic and adds to the intense atmosphere in any situation of the game with the wonderful blend of techno beats and traditional elements.

Ruiner’s framework is simple in execution but like any great action game, allows players to masterfully blend elements together to create an enthralling and dynamic experience. Your main goal is to find your brother which you’ll do by exploring vastly dangerous areas, killing anything that stands in your way and killing off some of the city’s biggest bounties. The gunplay is tight, refined and vastly enjoyable. You’ll have a basic semi-auto pistol and pipe through the game but other weapons can be picked up from the ground. There’s a huge arrangement of weapons to tear through the waves of enemies along with perks that can be bought as you level up. Players will be allowed to dash, plant grenades and place temporary barriers in order to survive the tougher onslaught of enemies. Ruiner’s combat is fluent, complex and mechanically strategic to create an engaging rush of panic, tension and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment once you win.

You’re also judged on your performance after each encounter and once a battle is done, a “grinder” will drop into the area to harvest all the karma from weapons left over. Once this is completed a new, super weapon will be rewarded but only if enough weapons are grinded. This is a great means to reward players on their ability to utilise their perks and encourages more of the risk and reward aspect to combat.

Ruiner is an extreme and brutal experience that’ll push players to their limits in order for progression to happen. Ruiner will make sure that failure is noted but never hangs your head in shame, rather more to encourage you with jabs of belittlement. However Ruiner is a fair game that never forces the difficulty through steep learning curves, nor does it implement article factors to increase the difficulty. Those who are feeling a little overwhelmed can try the easier mode as a means to learn tactics and advance their combat skills while still engaging in a healthy challenge.

There’s an imposing sense of dread and wonder as you explore and every second feel memorable. Ruiner has great pacing that makes sure each level offers new concepts and dangers, keeping the intensity escalating at each step while bringing in a variation to set pieces, boss battles and even the pacing for certain levels. One mission may you see battles through death squads through various “death rooms” while (one of my favourites) another sees Ruiner tackle hordes of zombie like husks with nothing but flamethrowers.

My only issues with Ruiner were that the hub world you explore between the main acts of the game lacks depth. Renok city as a hub world is visually striking and allows players to earn some extra XP by completing a couple of side missions but lacks overall complexity or interesting exploration. The side missions could’ve been more fulfilling and creating more secrets to discover would’ve been great to encourage a grander sense of exploration. Once you visit it, there’s little to keep you interested and just feels a little pointless after the first visit.

There’s also a lack of territory styles in the world with an industrial theme being the most constant throughout the game. It would’ve been a little more compelling if certain areas felt visually different from others but as said before, Ruiner is a beautiful game and what we get is visually breath-taking.

It’s a shame that isometric shooters over the years have been put down by critics and games like Hatred haven helped out. However I can say that what we have here is something special. Ruiner proves to be an amazing experience with compelling themes, intense and gripping action along with stunning aesthetics and immerse you from the main menu. I would love to see a sequel to Ruiner and hope this does well to encourage one to be made. All I can do for Ruiner is recommend this with the highest praise as one of the most brutal and brilliant action games I’ve played since Doom.

++ Intense and refined action gameplay
++ Awesome soundtrack
++ Immersive world building and visual styles
- Hub world lacks depth (more side quests and secrets needed)