Ruin for PlayStation Vita Hands-On Preview -- An Exciting Handheld Action RPGBy Sinan Kubba - Posted Aug 24, 2011
Of all the Vita games that were on the show floor after Sony's Tuesday press conference in Cologne, Ruin was the only that wasn't showing off some kind of touch controls. The reps will say that this is because the current build doesn't have them included yet, but I say it's because it's one of the few Vita games that doesn't really need them. Ruin, the isometric action-RPG from Idol Minds and Sony's San Diego Studio is all about the Vita's interconnectivity; console-to-console connectivity between Vita and PS3, and player-to-player connectivity using the Vita's enhanced 3G capabilities.
These were the rather vague bullet points featured in Sony's E3 press conference back in June, when Ruin was put forward as the poster boy for Vita's capability to let players switch between playing certain games on the handheld and the home console and vice versa. The game saves your progress to a server and then you can access it either on your shiny new handheld or your jumbo TV at home.
That's all just dandy, but I wanted to know more about the game itself and how players interacted with each other in its mobile Diablo-like arena. Before playing through the short demo Sony had lined up for Cologne I talked with Chris Floyd, the game's lead designer at Idol Minds, about the game's online features, and he revealed some interesting tidbits.
As shown during the E3 conference, players can attack each other's lairs, but what does that mean? Well, as players progress through the game they'll level up and get the chance to upgrade, but they can choose to upgrade either themselves or their lairs. Upgrading a lair allows players to change how it's constructed, which creatures are in it, what defenses are in it, and so on.
Choosing whether to upgrade your character or your lair has ramifications. Upgrade your character and he or she will be stronger for the main campaign and for successfully attacking other players' lairs. However, if you upgrade your lair then you stand a better chance of getting rewards by players trying to attack your lair and failing. It's a similar system to that of Demon's Souls, in which players can enter other people's games and launch attacks, the victor reaping the spoils. If someone attacks your lair in Ruin, you can defend it from them in real-time in what will hopefully an epic PVP showdown. The major difference with Ruin, though, is that players can attack your lair even when you're offline. If a player tries to attack your lair over and over again while you're offline but fails each time, then that means you're going to rack up rewards big-time.
Idol Minds and Sony are still keeping things close to their chest about how exactly this will play out, but according to the Sony rep there will be a matchmaking-like system to keep things balanced. What this means for friend versus friend lair attacks isn't clear. As for game length, a straight-to-the-end playthrough will take about 15 to 20 hours, but with tons of side quests and of course other players' lairs to attack, a more involved playthrough could drain away a good couple of days.
Lastly, in the demo I played as the assassin, a nimble rogue-like cloaked female. The demo wasn't balanced, but it was interesting to see her range of attacks compared to the infernal warrior shown at E3. As expected of a rogue-like character she could chain quick blade attacks, but she could also throw a line of poisoned darts, use bombs, and perform a devastating special attack.
Her bomb attack sounded particularly interesting; the longer I was able to chain attacks with my blades translated into the more bombs I could then throw in one go. Aiming was difficult with the bombs but when I was able to chuck three of the blighters around the arena that didn't really matter. As for the special attack, she suddenly leapt into the air before reappearing in flashes behind two enemies, quickly performing an execution-like stealth kill with her daggers, before landing back on the ground. It looked great, but I'd like to see it in a more balanced build.
Ruin is shaping up nicely at this stage, and now it's up to Sony and Idol Minds to show us more than the tech capabilities of the game on Vita. I know I'm just about sold on that side of things now, but the game itself has got a long way to go yet.