Thursday, December 09, 2021

Video Game Review - Ruined King: A League of Legends Story

So, I don't usually buy or play video games right when they come out. In fact, I think I started DC Universe Online four YEARS after it debuted. But I've been very interested in League of Legends for awhile, mostly because of their awesome music videos. With the release of their full animated series, Arcane, I became even more interested.

Now, in the gaming community, League of Legends is a big deal. Players get millions of dollars for being good at it.

But there's a big problem with League of Legends for me. I hate PvP. I don't like any type of Player versus Player games. I have found that I get far too intense and stupid and turn into almost literally a monster. So I avoid PvP whenever possible. I just don't like doing it at all. I will play against people very casually, but in League of Legends, casual doesn't work so well. So I've mostly ignored the game while being fascinated by its lore.

So when they announced a single-player turn-based RPG set in the League of Legends universe that explores some of the lore, I was intrigued. And after I mentioned my interest to hubby-Eric, he suggested I buy it and try it. For the first time ever, I bought a game on release day as an adult and started playing.

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story

After three weeks, I've finished the game (on the easiest setting) and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it.

It's a fairly standard RPG with turn-based battles (you set up your next move, the foes set up their moves, the battle is run until you need to pick what you are going to do again). You start with a single character and eventually "collect" six characters with different skill sets. You run battles with three of them at a time - and depending on which characters are active, you might see different things in the world around you. For example, a certain type of treasure might only be visible to one character, so if that character isn't one of your three active characters as you move around the map, you might miss it.

Everything has a solid story reason behind it, and despite what really is an absolutely lunatic combination of characters, it works. I mean, we have a happy Viking-type, a pirate, a samurai, a vampire, a honorable priestess, and a stealthy revenant - all on the same team. But each character has a backstory that you learn throughout the game. Despite some tension, they work together well as you take them on a world-changing quest. I quickly developed a favored pair of characters, which allowed me to switch out my third for whoever I needed in the storyline at that moment.

Gameplay was easy enough on the normal setting, with battles taking a few attempts to figure out, then becoming pleasant puzzles. Learning the fighting system thoroughly helped immensely when I got to the final battle, which pulled in all the knowledge into one nasty bundle. I lost on my first try because I went in under-powered. I made sure to remedy that with a little bit of grinding out the game's many side-quests, and handlily managed my second attempt.

The main storyline is filled with good gameplay - not just fighting. There are a number of puzzles to solve, some obvious, some a little more difficult. Paying attention to detail really pays off - like noticing when an object drops off something. Huh, could that object have a clue on it? Better go find it and check. In addition to the main storyline, there are a lot of side quests. As usual for this type of game, some are ridiculous. Some are necessary to advance. Some are necessary to get better gear. But can you really claim you've won the game if you haven't found Fluffy?

The art is good, and some of the opponents are very fun. I like battling a "Possessed Tome". As in other games, you quickly get a sense of what enemies you can't handle yet and which ones are fine to take on without fear. Unfortunately, just because one baddie shows up in the overall scene you are moving through doesn't mean that when you enter the fight it hasn't brought along a few friends. Ouch. The style overall reminds me, pleasantly, of games I used to play in high school. It is not complicated, sophisticated, or hyper-realistic. It's just fun. I felt like a teenager again while playing.

The story drove me on, because I wanted to read it all and find out what really happened. There is a central mystery to it - the opening cinematic sets it up beautifully. Why did the Blessed Isles fall? What is the Harrowing? You get some solid answers by the end. It's like reading a novel while playing it as well. It was an experience I very much enjoyed. In addition to the main story there were the individual tales of each of our six main characters as well as bits of lore featuring dozens of other characters, some related and some not, that you just find as you explore the world.

On the downside, the initial release had some bugs. The worst were some quests that remained in the quest log after you finish them, and some items on the map that never showed up as completed. As far as I experienced it, fighting and movement were not affected so I was able to mostly ignore the problems.

Another issue was backtracking. Although the game introduces some "quick travel" options, they don't cover everything, and you really do have to retread a lot of ground to finish quests and figure stuff out. It's not ideal, but the closer I got to end game, the less backtracking I needed to do, so it wasn't too bad. It just was bad enough to be noticable.

Also. Fishing. Yeah, that's a thing. Like in almost every game in this genre. For some reason. I don't know why. Fishing. I think it must be a requirement.

In the meta-game, I found it very easy to get Steam Achievements. Most of them happened just by doing all the side quests, and the one or two I missed (the fishing achievement and the "meet every opponent" achievement) were easy to go back and get once I finished the game. In fact, the only two Steam Achievements I still need to do are to complete the game on the two higher levels of difficulty. Which I plan to do, because I enjoyed it and don't mind replaying it.

So, overall, well worth the cost of the game. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and kind of wish I had more of it to play. I hope there is a new story DLC in the future, but I'm not counting on it.