Having gone a while without writing a review (I’ve been writing for a local paper, so my free time was taken up by a variety of projects), I’ve been itching to get back to playing some games. This year, we’ve had a plethora of great games to pick from ranging from epic RPGs (Witcher 3) to mindless beat-em-ups (Arkham Knight) and even some surprises that seemed to sneak up on us (Mad Max). In between every AAA release is always a few indie games that sprout up. Ronin is one that I had seen on TotalBiscuits YouTube channel, but saw that there was much negativity surrounding the game due to having a lack of graphical options that you usually find in good PC games and for a 30 fps cap. I wanted to offer up a counter (while still agreeing that it’s a fun game).
So first, what is this game? Ronin is a turn based action game. The left stick moves your character, and the right stick pauses the game and draws an arc. This arc will either be white all the way through, showing where you’ll land exactly or it will have red at some point in it. Red means when in combat, you’ll stop at that point, hanging mid air. The various buttons on the controller will be used for things like attacking, throwing your sword or teleporting around. To use these abilities (other than attacking) you have to kill enemies and build up a charge meter. Building it up all the way causes it to empty and gives you a free turn.
The first issue you see regarding this game is the lack of variety. Certainly with 5 main targets to assassinate, each being broken down to two information gathering levels and the assassination level, one could think of this as having little variety. But it’s the level makeup, the design and placement of enemies and interactive objects that really shines. Sure the ‘offices’ are all the same looking but if you spend a moment to look at the backgrounds you see evidence of bad people doing horrible things. Giant warmachines are being built while vats of experimental chemicals rise up from the floors. While the buildings aren’t logically built for ‘innocent’ people to work in these offices, they make for a wonderful jenga-style tower of chaos. Wondering where you can step safely and when to move while backs are turned is build on the foundation of their level design.
Graphical options are fantastic to see in games, as not everyone has bleeding edge hardware to run every game at full spec. Given the option of having ambient occlusion on or off in the newest FPS game can mean dozens of frames saved and a smoother gameplay experience all together. That being said, this is a simple 2d game with a simple art style. There’s little to nothing that would be gained by most of your standard graphical options with the exception of resolution and anti-aliasing. There is no reason why these should not be selectable by the user. Some people want to play in a small window while they do other things and not having that option IS a shame.
The game itself is locked at 30fps, but because of the nature of the game I don’t think that it detracts at all. It’s not quite a puzzle game (there’s no one way to beat the levels). It’s more of a game of waiting for the right moment to strike. It’s tense, but it’s not action packed. Since the control scheme is one where you choose what you’ll do and then watch it play out, there’s no drawback (other than animations would look nicer) to having 30fps here. And as always I’d rather have a consistent frame rate than one with the potential for higher that varies.
So all this being said, I dropped around 8 hours into the game and beat it (got the ‘bad’ ending) and I plan on beating the new game plus because at the end of the day, the game is really really fun. If you want something that’s going to make you scratch your head and think six steps ahead, this is it. This is the chess of turn based real time ninja combat. And everyone should at least give the free demo on Steam a try to see if the things that other people complain about are really something that makes the game less fun. The game can be found at http://store.steampowered.com/app/274230 with the demo link on the side.