After making a name for himself on consoles and PCs, Hotline Miami’s Polish ember in cyberpunk sauce finally lands on Nintendo Switch.
DISCLAIMER: the author of the review, Marco Mottura, worked on the Italian translation of Ruiner, made free of charge together with a small group of other fans in 2018.
It’s impossible to deny it: with its acidic style, its ultra-gameplay (even towards the same player …) and its unrivalled soundtrack, Hotline Miami has not only left an indelible mark on the gaming scene but has in fact created a real precedent. The Swedish debut work Dennaton Games did not in fact just upset the indie market, contributing like no other title to the well-deserved fame of an adorable rogue of a publisher like Devolver Digital, but managed to have repercussions in the round, to consecrate unreservedly among the huge public – just mention in this sense the recent and sensational Easter egg of The Last of Us Part 2. In short, Hotline Miami has opened the way, and many have tried several times to insert themselves along the trail of blood and neon of an absolute cult, directly following its playability or inspired by the unmistakable 80s tones made of palms and synths.
All you need is blood
RUINER, of the Poles of Reikon Games (incidentally another team at the beginning, just as had happened at the time at Dennaton Games …), in my opinion, represents the emulous of the original far more successful among a host of experiments ranging from more or less direct inspirations to 1: 1 clone.
The idea is to start from an exasperated one against all, from an uncompromising difficulty, from a ferocious mors tua vita mea tied with a double thread with the pounding gait of a masterful soundtrack: roughly the constituent ingredients by Hotline Miami, reworked however in a recipe designed to slightly change the overall taste. There are mainly three changes made to the formula: the first to catch the eye is certainly the fascinating cyberpunk setting, with a desolate glimpse of the future made of neural hacking, subliminal images, kawaii emoticons and prevailing technology. A just metropolitan scenario just sketched – the means of production were certainly not those of an AAA blockbuster, even if the little glimpse of Bangkok City always impresses – which, however, thanks to the effective writing, the character of certain stylistic choices and in general to a glorious artistic direction give RUINER an eccentric and enviable personality. The nature of a first work that must not be afraid of anyone, and that in fact can, in turn, become a small-large reference for anyone.
The other big factor of novelty lies in the camera: no shot from above or proudly 2D engine, with a massive appeal to that dirty and grotesque pixel art that has been able to distinguish Hotline Miami so much.
On the contrary, here the view becomes isometric, with the Unreal Engine 4 moving suffocating metal labyrinths dominated by red and black, between ranks of criminals to be massacred, extra weapons to be collected and tough end-of-level bosses. It is in any case in the gameplay the main joint capable of differentiating RUINER: if the setting remains that of the twin-stick shooter at the lightning bolt, all-steel reflections and challenging at times boldly unequal, it is the possibility of developing the silent protagonist in RPG style to change the cards on the table. In RUINER you will actually have the opportunity to spend skill points to acquire and enhance new skills: a system that allows you to very differentiating the way you fight, going to vary the approaches a lot.
By counting that the points to invest among the various skills can be recovered and spent differently at any time, you will understand how adapting, reacting to the environment and studying different approaches proves to be an essential requirement to survive (even more to kill in style, given the ranking system designed to add more pepper to the question).
How does it run on Switch?
The result can only be then a visceral but also multifaceted and profound action game, made up of choreographic strategies and tactical power-ups: an untiring alternating ballet of dodges, bullet times, energy shields that slow down enemies, loaded shots and much more. All in a freely enjoyable alternation of fierce melee attacks and whimsical hi-tech firearms developed on a campaign of at least six / seven hours that does not disdain occasional pleasantly narrative nuances.
A playful system that had already proven to work as a cannon at the time of the original release in 2017, re-proposed for the occasion on Nintendo Switch with a truly surprising porting. Surprising because, as mentioned above, RUINER has always been a very valuable game to watch: one of those indies with an enviable compromise between technical muscles and innate artistic inspiration.
On the Grande N machine, especially in portable mode, the wow effect is almost guaranteed: despite the 720p and some inevitable visual compromise, the image appears clean and effective in its decadent elegance, with a framerate that apart from very rare exceptions remains stubbornly anchored at playable 30fps. And it is always for a walk that RUINER gives its best: being able to enjoy a similar experience on the move has a special charm because the very nature of the title – which, as expected, plans to try and try, obsessively, a death after the other – fits perfectly with the peculiar soul of Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Analyzed VersionHotline Miami emulator sensationally underestimated (perhaps not to at least partially overshadow the same Hotline, given that the publisher, Devolver Digital, is the same …), RUINER proves with this release on Nintendo Switch that he has not lost a whit of his incendiary original charisma. Almost three years after the launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the first work of Reikon Games continues to win and convince by virtue of a perfectly focused concentration of style and substance: delicious to watch and listen to, as well as compelling to play, this cruel twin-stick action-shooter is the exemplary paradigm of the game capable of making itself loved and hated at the same time – by the way, those who do not appreciate a certain taste for the challenge and anyone who lives badly the game over abstain. On Nintendo Switch, at € 19.99, with the possibility of enjoying it everywhere, it is an almost obligatory purchase: do not do the bunnies (cit.), Take up a rifle or a metal tube and dive headlong into a suffocating cyberpunk universe.