Lone Ruin is a twin-stick magical roguelike shooter, where spells take the place of bullets. The main character is an explorer who aims to descend into the depths of the ruined magical city, and to find and dispell the source of its corruption. The main question is, can Lone Ruin escape the shadow cast by the very best examples of this genre?
Each run starts with the explorer approaching the city where a mysterious figure gives them a choice of spell or weapon to help start their journey. These include shards that you can fire at enemies, a scythe if you fancy getting up close and personal, and chain lightning which can hit multiple enemies at once, and some of them will have buffs already applied to them, such as shorter cooldowns or inflicting effects such as burning. Chain lightning is definitely one of the better options, especially when upgraded.
Lone Ruin is easy to pick up and play, regardless of whether you play twin-stick shooters regularly or not. The left stick moves, the right stick aims, and you cast spells and dash across the arenas using the triggers. Enemies vary from bat-like creatures that fire projectiles and giant caterpillar monsters that have protective shells, to trios of crawlers that will aim to get in close to cause damage. Depending on the difficulty you have selected, enemies will be able to absorb more damage before falling. Your character will also have less health depending on the difficulty, and in roguelike fashion, once your health runs out your run is over and you go back to the beginning (unless you have picked up an item like Ankh that will revive you, of course).
Lone Ruin uses darker colours for its environments, evoking the darkness that has fallen upon the ruined city. Enemies do generally stick out as they are brighter against the arena locations, though some of the smaller ones can blend in. Unfortunately, there’s not much world building to go alongside this setting, with just the opening and ending cutscenes to do all the heavy lifting. Lone Ruin pales in comparison to standouts of this genre like Supermassive’s Hades.
Once you have cleared an arena, you have a choice of which archway to go through, each giving a different reward should you complete them. These rewards include treasure to spend in the shop, additional spells to add to your repertoire, spell upgrades, or health upgrades.
It builds up to the boss that you face at the end of each section of the city, and these characters can provide a stiff challenge if you are not prepared for them. They deal high damage relatively quickly due to the attacks they have, be it firing shards at you quickly or, int he case of the second boss, completely surrounding you. Lone Ruin is relatively short as there are just three bosses in total before you reach the end of the campaign.
While there’s not a narrative drawing you back in, there is plenty of replayability as you experiment with different spells and also aim to climb the online leaderboards. The leaderboards are split across difficulties. Outside of the main campaign there is a survival mode in which you face off against waves of enemies, trying to dispatch them as quickly as possible, and again, there are leaderboards for this mode too.