Title: Ruin of the Reckless
Platform: PC, Steam (reviewed), Itch.io
Developer: Faux-Operative Games
Publisher: Faux-Operative Games
Release Date: April 26
TL;DR: An infuriatingly addictive and beautifully nostalgic brawler-crawler
Price: $15/£12
Family Friendly? Click here for more information

I’ve maintained the rather naïve opinion that the Super Nintendo delivered the best looking games: Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6: the list goes on. Of course, I’m happy that graphics have evolved in games, but a piece of me still wants the simplicity of that 16-bit era. Ruin of the Reckless, a game designed by the California-based Faux-Operative Games wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Super Nintendo – and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

The premise of the game is very simple, after learning that you’re dead, you attempt to ascend a tower to gain the chance of having a single wish granted. Of course, being a game that realises the hectic nature of brawler games very well, the “simple,” task is complicated by the hordes of adorable monsters that plague each floor you stop at. And unless you’re able to reach one of the several shops that are littered around the tower, each impending death will send you straight back to the first floor.

The real meat of the game is the chaotic combat. At the start of each floor, you’ll have about five or ten seconds to roam about the start of the level before a group of cuddly bastards appear and begin trying to stomp on you. It doesn’t take a lot to kill these enemies, usually one or two melee or magic attacks are enough to see them off – it’s just the sheer volume of them. But as with any brawler type game, you begin to learn the tricks of the trade quickly, and this was very much the case during my time with the game.

The mechanics of the game provide you with everything you need to achieve victory – theoretically. You can use short bursts of speed to gain distance, magic acts as a ranged attack that can be used quickly or charged up to release a powerful attack, and a range of melee weapons that can be acquired both in the levels or at the oasis-like shops of the tower.

Even with all this equipment at your disposal, the game will be a masochistic experience for you – though there are ways for you to soften the inevitable blow. Firstly, the game implements a card-based perks system called “Chaos Cards,” allowing you to strengthen your attacks, make floors “easier,” or make the floors more difficult. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, as an array of other perks can be found in levels or bought at shops. It’s a nice inclusion of strategy for a game that’s seemingly chaotic, and it achieves this strategic aspect without becoming needlessly intricate, which reflects so much of the casual nature of the game.

The second way you can make things easier for yourself is by roping in one of your friends to fight alongside you – because misery loves company. The game’s co-op will allow the second player to take on the role of Stella, who, like her counterpart Stargrove, has her own reasons for wanting to reach the tower’s peak which offers a satisfyingly legitimate reason to have a co-op mode embedded within the game. The advantage of a second player to help you will become exceedingly obvious as you work together to fend off the ever-growing masses of enemies as you progress through the tower.

Whilst the game’s design is a beautiful recreation of the design and gameplay that ran rampant through my childhood, there are aspects of the game that fail to utilise the design to its fullest. This is most prevalent in the level design of the game. Ruin of the Reckless follows suit in the indie category by using procedurally generated levels for each individual tower climb, and I can understand why they’ve used this feature. The advantage of random levels allows for a new challenge for every playthrough.

However, whilst the environments may be constantly changing, the mechanics of the game will always be the same. So with this in mind, I felt that the developers could have created some interesting environments that become a kind of retrospective of the 16-bit era. And because you’re going to have to sink a fair amount of time into the game to stand a chance of reaching its peak, having random levels doesn’t add much to the game. Don’t get me wrong, the feature is a good one, but it also means that many floors are very simple, with only crates and barrels decorating a rudimentary floor design connected by a few corridors.

Sound, for these types of games, is just as important as the design. So whilst the level design lets itself down, the sound makes up for it. With a soundtrack that could have been ripped straight from the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, the electronic pop stylings of the Slime Girls and Protodome create a high-tempo backdrop that compliments the hectic action unfolding in the game perfectly.

Overall, Ruin of the Reckless is going to be a game that you can dip in and out of at your pleasure. It’s been a surprisingly fun game to play and the inclusion of a local co-op mode is a great feature that should be taken advantage of. The low system requirements for the game mean that it can be played on a non-gaming PC with ease – and Faux-Operative have already mapped PS3, PS4, and Xbox One controllers for the game, meaning you can simply plug in a pad and play. Take my advice, invite a few friends to your place and see how far up the tower you can get – you won’t be sorry.

The Good:

  • The design of the game is beautiful recreation of my favourite 16-bit classics
  • The simplicity of the game mechanics allows you to dip in and out freely
  • The music compliments the on-screen action perfectly

The Bad:

  • The levels are simple to the point of boring which lets down the surrounding design of the game

Family Friendly?

There is no age rating currently available for Ruin of the Reckless. Though the game contains fighting, there is no graphic violence.


 Disclaimer: This review is based on a beta build of the game provided by the publisher.