Have you heard of Lone Ruin? It’s a tricky twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements that was released earlier this month. Everyone was talking about it, but does it live up to its reputation?

The simple premise involves completing a series of dungeons to earn treasure. Clearing a room of its monsters allows you to progress to the next, with various pathways letting you choose your fate. Will you risk chasing the treasure, opt for better weapons, or refill your life meter? These are the questions you’ll need to ponder each time you move on to the next dungeon.

Lone Ruin - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

Gameplay involves moving around a contained room until all enemies perish. The twin-stick nature of the game works well, controlling your character’s movements with one stick and the direction of your firearms with the other. The shoulder buttons serve as your weapons, although you can adjust these settings to your heart’s content. Overall, it’s a smooth and satisfying experience.

Each run begins with a choice of eight weapons. You’re greeted by some kind of demon salesperson, a weapons master who declares that “It’s dangerous to go ‘lone”. This classic reference always delivers a smile. There’s a large arsenal at your disposal, including melee and long-range types. Some even fit into both categories, like my personal favorite, chain lightning. This one creates bouncing electrical jolts of energy that transfer between enemies. It’s exceedingly fun to test them all until you find the one that fits best. This variety also provides at least one reason to replay after dying. 

Lone Ruin - Nintendo Switch - screen 3

Oh yes, did I mention death comes swiftly and regularly? Your hefty life meter is quickly diminished by an onslaught of enemies. These monsters are fun and diverse, growing in difficulty and number as you progress. Flaming skulls are the most common Goomba-type of enemy, but you’ll soon encounter wizards, worms, and some kind of toothy slug creature. Boss battles also occur regularly, adding another level of difficulty to proceedings. In fact, this is where you’ll mostly die.

Leaderboards also help with replayability. After each run, you can see where you rank amongst other players. This encourages replay by a simple desire to climb that ladder, while also showing that you probably performed better than you thought. It’s a tough game, after all, and ranking somewhere in the top 300 around the world feels kinda .. good. Why not give it another go? Of course, if you’re not a glutton for punishment, it’s unlikely Lone Ruin will change your mind.

Lone Ruin - Nintendo Switch - screen 2

The graphics are great. The dark, painted visuals are striking, like the world has been given a violet filter. A neon-bright blue-and-pink aesthetic highlights certain features, adding to the appeal. The audio is also terrific, suitably fast paced for the bullet hell you’re about to endure. It combines to create a dark atmosphere that looks like it’s set in a hellish nightclub realm. 

Overall, Lone Ruin is a tough twin-stick shooter that hits the spot. The runs are quick and satisfying, with leaderboards and multiple weapons to encourage replay. It looks great and plays smoothly; just don’t get too comfortable because it will all be over soon. Until you play again.