Sometimes, it can be hard to find the words to talk about a game. Occasionally, this is because the game has a bizarre mechanic, or covers a sensitive subject and you aren’t sure how to address it. Other times it’s because a game is just so self evident that describing it feel like an exercise in redundancy. But allow me to persist, dear readers, in telling you about Ruin Raiders, developed by Overpowered Team and published by Freedom Games. It’s good.

Okay, so that can’t be the entire review – but it is good, so let’s get into the nitty and the gritty. The premise of Ruin Raiders is that you command a team of three anthropomorphic beast people – you can pick from bird, rhino, or bulldog to begin with, each one having its own skills and strengths (birds can replenish AP to nearby teammates, rhinos can add armor to themselves, and bulldogs can guarantee a hit in a pinch) as they raid mysterious ruins for a substance called Entium which is both this game’s unobtanium macguffin and its currency. So you send groups of raiders down into the ruins – each time finding a new layout and new encounters – all in the hopes of making to the very end and discovering everything the ruins have to offer.

What that means for gameplay is that Ruin Raiders is a rogue-like game, with a different procedurally generated dungeon every time you play. Each trek starts over from the beginning with a new set of raiders, which I hope you don’t get too attached to (seriously, though, don’t. Every raider of a given class will have the same stats at a given level so they’re functionally interchangeable), especially since they’re probably going to die.

Unlocking new classes is only one of several upgrades you'll want to make
Unlocking new classes is only one of several upgrades you’ll want to make

See, Ruin Raiders falls into the “explore, die, improve, repeat” style of rogue-likes, such as Dreamscaper and Undermine where you take the resource you’ve been acquiring in your trip down and spend it on upgrades such as the ability to recruit new classes of raiders, the ability to equip better weapons, level up higher, and store more Entium resources. All of these and more are purchasable upgrades that will require raid after raid to afford, all of which will get you closer to the end of the ruins.

Speaking of those ruins, what is raiding them like? Well, when you’re initially exploring, you have free control over your squad, moving them around like a standard adventure game, looking for loot and exploring room by room. That room by room part is key, as every new room you enter on the map has a chance of throwing you headfirst into combat, which is where the game’s tactical side takes over. Each room gets translated into a series of tiles, and all the random junk spread around the ruins makes for a handy bit of cover. Each of your raiders gets two Action Points on their turn, this AP can be used to move, perform a skill, make an attack, or take an overwatch position, which attacks the first moving enemy in range on their turns. You can also move and shoot, use a skill or use an overwatch, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to shoot then move as far as I can tell, so check your position carefully. Combat proceeds so that all your raiders get a turn, all the enemies get a turn, rinse and repeat until one side is routed. If one of your guys falls in battle, they will come back after the fight with a little health having missed out on the XP from the fight.

As with a lot of rogue-likes, there’s tons of extra fiddly mechanics like the Entium Cores, which can be equipped to give your raiders a boost but can’t be removed from a raider once equipped, though they can be reallocated on that raider later. You also have to keep track of your remaining shots before having to take an action to reload or switch to your second equipped weapon, and so on. Despite this, everything is incredibly intuitive and there’s a handy in-game tutorial and guide to explain everything.

Your chances of hitting are always clearly labeled, but like all X-com style games, anything less than 100 can still miss, no matter how implausible it might seem
Your chances of hitting are always clearly labeled, but like all X-com style games, anything less than 100 can still miss, no matter how implausible it might seem

That said, I have one specific complaint with the game and that is the fact that you cannot save and resume your dungeon exploration, not to try and undo a dumb move or a total wipeout (I’d be perfectly fine with a delete on load system for these saves), I just want a way to be able to stop a raid partway through and shut down the game without having to sacrifice the run. Rogue-Likes are perfect for pick up and play gameplay and Ruin Raiders would be absolutely perfect for it with that one addition. If that’s not a problem for you and you like the combat of X-com (Or Mario and Rabbids, for that matter) and like dungeon exploration, Ruin Raiders is absolutely the game for you.

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