Not every retro-inspired title has to redefine the genre or feel like a spiritual sequel. All it needs to do is understand what defined the classics and use it as a foundation. Lost Ruins is an example of such a homage. It’s a Metroidvania style adventure with anime inspired visuals that takes players to a grim and mysterious world.
Lost Ruins is a game crafted for old school fans as it embraces everything that defined its inspirations. This is an experience that puts a heavy emphasis trial and error while rewarding players for their curiosity. At the same time, it wants to welcome new players to the genre by allowing them to enjoy it at their own pace.
A World of Dark Secrets
Players take on the role of a young girl (known only as the Heroine) who wakes up in a grimly looking world. She has no memory of how she came to this world or who she is. With the help and guidance of Beatrice, she must explore the many realms and find a way to escape. Along the way, you will battle a verity of monster and meet new friends.
The story is explored through both the players interaction with other characters along with the many notes and journals scattered through the world. Interacting with other characters gives you an idea of this world while the journals help fill in the gaps. Some will be interesting while others will be heartbreak and some will give players a good chuckle. Telling a story in such a way can be a hit or miss and this is one example of it being done right.
Let me get the obvious out of the way, yes, the anime style visuals got my attention as I’m a sucker for it. The visuals and character models are anime inspired while the world is created with 32-bit inspired graphics. The result is players will encounter a verity of bosses and enemies that could be either grotesque or adorable in a macabre way. To it’s credit, the Lost Ruins doesn’t go all in or fully embrace the tropes of the medium. It mostly uses the style to design its world. I should point out that because of the characters design, there were moments that I started singing “Don’t Lose Your Way” to myself (Kill la Kill fans know what I mean).
Visual designs are only half of what brings this world to life. The musical elements also help to set the mood while bringing this dark world to life. It does a lot to set the atmosphere for what is happening while also working to balance the grim atmosphere. At times, the music can be chearful (despite the evniroment) while other times it adds to the eerieness.
A Need to Survive
Combat is a mix between using a verity of spells along with the classic hack’n slash. Players will collect weapons as they explore the world (each one suited based on the players preferred style). There is also a plethora of different spells (based on the elements of fire, ice, and poison) while having the potential to be effective against the right enemy. Adding to the combat is that players are encouraged to use both spells and weapons for effective results. Learning the combat system will be easy but mastering it will take some time.
Knowing how to use both weapons and spells are not the only way to survive this world. Players will also need to master the environment that defines this dungeons world. The right spell or actions could be amplified in the proper environment. At the same time, it could be weakened or hurt the player if they are not careful. It also helps to familiarize yourself with the map or you will get lost and waste resources trying to find the right path.
One will appreciate the verity in difficulty levels that are given. Players will have a verity of difficulties to chose from. Those new to such a game could have an experience that allows them to familiarize themselves with the world and the gameplay style. This makes sense as this is an experience that has a heavy emphasis trial and error. You will get lost too many times while back tracking and (depending on the difficulty) dying. It’s also a game that rewards you for your curiosity and learning from your mistakes. Thus it makes sense for some to start on easy than work their way up once they’ve mastered the gameplay. Those wanting a challenge will also be satisfied by the hardest difficulty options available.
A Rusty Blade
Lost Ruins only real issues seem to be the control don’t respond fast enough to the players desired action. There are going to be moments when your hits will not be detected or you will miss that ledge. During my playthrough; I used both a controller along with a mouse and keyboard, the results were the same. It’s not too big of an issue now, players will have to realize is there and adapt the best they can.
Homage to the Metroidvania
Overall; Lost Ruins is both an unforgettable experience and a love letter to Metroidvania style adventures. It fully embraces the defining elements of the genre while also hitting all the right marks. It gets your attention with the artistic design choices while the gameplay and world will keep you playing for hours.
Lost Ruins is an anime-style Metroidvania adventure that has been crafted for retro fans while also welcoming to new players. It knowns how to be silly and creepy, it can be easy or challenging, while also hitting all the right marks in regards to being a retro inspired experience without fallback on cliches.
Disclaimer: DANGEN Entertainment provided the game used in this review.