Riot has been on a roll with the recent success of Arcane, and just a couple of days ago, their new RPG, Ruined King, was released out of the blue. Is it any good, or did Riot fumble in their foray into another new genre?
TURN-BASED, WITH A TWIST
What sets Ruined King apart from other turn-based games is its use of a dynamic timeline that shows exactly when each character will act. I’m a huge fan of this mechanic, as it adds an extra layer of strategy to what’s typically a rather simple system. As I’m writing this, I’m playing through the story on Heroic difficulty, and I love how, with this setting, the game just absolutely punishes you for even the smallest of misplays.
Each character has a separate set of abilities that can be cast on one of three different lanes. Whenever you use one of these abilities, you get to choose between the Speed, Balanced, and Power lane, and this not only affects how powerful its effect will be, but also when your character will be able to act again. In addition to that, every fight has a random boon or hazard that heavily rewards strategic use of the timeline, and some enemies also have buffs (some of which trigger on death) that can only be dispelled through attacks done in certain lanes.
The game provides you with all of the tools you need to carefully plan out every turn, as it comes with an inspect feature that lets you study all of your enemies’ moves and whatever unique mechanics they may introduce to the fight. This comes in handy during encounters such as the “False Goddess” boss fight, where you’ll be unable to deal much damage if you choose to engage her directly.
Even though I’ve been a huge fan of League of Legends since 2010, I was never really invested in its lore until recently. I feel like Ruined King does a good job of introducing bits of the world to both new and old fans of the franchise, as it gives players a small glimpse of what some the other regions of Runeterra are like through its many character interactions and cutscenes.
The game mainly revolves around the pirate city of Bilgewater and the mystery behind the Shadow Isles’ dreaded Black Mist. It features a cast of playable champions that fans will immediately recognize, such as Ahri and Pyke, and as you progress through the story, conversations between them reveal more about their respective backgrounds and the many events leading up to the game’s central narrative (e.g. Miss Fortune’s rise to power and Braum’s quest to help his people).
Despite the linearity of its main story, the game has plenty of side content that you can find and complete, and it keeps things fresh by occasionally throwing in puzzles that require certain characters to be present in your current party. There’s also a fair bit of collecting and grinding to be done if you’re trying to go for 100% completion, but from what I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t seem too drag on for too long.
NOT ENTIRELY PERFECT
While I do enjoy both the story and the gameplay, I do have a few minor gripes with it. I’m mainly annoyed by the lack of a minimap and fast travel points, which makes exploring the overworld unnecessarily tedious at times, especially when several quests have you running back and forth through different areas. With the relatively slow movement speed and lackluster quest tracking system, it almost feels like the game is punishing you for trying to finish everything it has to offer.
I’ve also run into a few bugs throughout my current playthrough, with some of which preventing any form of progression until it’s restarted (this has happened to me twice so far). The devs have rolled out a few patches in the last couple of days though, and they’ve been very responsive to the community, so they’re at least addressing these issues over time.
IS IT WORTH GETTING THOUGH?
Even if you’re not a fan of League of Legends, the game is definitely well worth the asking price, and I do think that it can serve as a great starting point for newcomers to the franchise. The fluid animations and unique lane mechanics make combat an enjoyable experience that never really gets dull. Overall, I think it’s a solid RPG, and I hope that the developers get to cover other stories within the universe, as there’s a vast amount of League of Legends content that I believe would work perfectly with this formula.