RONIN DEMO – FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Developer: Tomasz Wacławek
Publisher Devolver Digital
Playing Ronin could be likened to dipping your French Fries into a Chocolate Milkshake together for the first time. Sure, you like French Fries and you like Chocolate Milkshakes, but eating them together? You’re not so sure. But oh well, you say, what could go wrong?
Much like French Fries and Chocolate Milkshakes, it turns out Platformers and Turn-Based strategy games can go together surprisingly well as Ronin manages to successfully combine and execute both elements without a loss of pacing. Gameplay in Platformers would usually require your fingers to perform well-timed, dextrous clicks of the keyboard in sharp contrast to relatively slow-paced and strategic Turn-Based games which have more in common with Chess than they do with Mario.
Ronin was developed, designed, and programmed by Tomasz Waclawek and published by DEVOLVER DIGITAL, responsible for such games as Hotline Miami, the Talos Principle, and the Shadow Warrior re-release and remake.
Ronin has relatively simple gameplay. As per its Platforming elements, you are required to successfully navigate your character all the way to the end of a left-to-right two dimensional level while accomplishing objectives in between. In typical Ninja-esque fashion, you can scale walls and jump from building to building and use a grapple hook while jumping to pull yourself towards surfaces. Jumping and Grappling are done via the mouse as the old Jump key aka the Space bar is used for stopping time although you could also do so by holding down the mouse.
Despite what you might assume on first glance, Ronin is more about well-timed assassinations than it is about stealth, which can prove useful in combat rather than in avoiding it.
The Turn-based mechanics mainly come into play when you enter combat with time stopping upon an enemy noticing you. As deaths are instant and there is no health bar, you will have to carefully plot our your next move, taking into consideration the position of your enemies and where there are currently aiming at. Clearing different levels requires a lot of trial and error so if you aren’t into that then I wouldn’t recommend this game.
As good a game this is, I often found the controls to be a bit unreliable at times, mainly when it came to aiming and moving about via the Grapple. Sometimes when I wanted to use the grapple to pull myself onto the ceiling above during a fight, I would somehow find myself swinging like a monkey and in the line of fire before I could press the button to retract the grapple. Other minor inconveniences involved the trajectory of the jump as I often landed on a different place than displayed when I was aiming said jump. However, the controls shouldn’t prove too much of a hassle once you get to the gameplay
Another minor qualm you might have is that you might find the gameplay repetitive and get tired of the levels after a while. Personally, I would say that the game should not overstay it’s welcome, being about 15 levels long with the Demo only taking up the first 3.
As is to be expected, the story in this game is minimal as it serves the gameplay; not a bad thing as it doesn’t get into the way of your jumping and slicing. The art and music of this game also serve the gameplay quite well, adding atmosphere and direction while not being distracting. The story follows Ronin, a young girl who hunts the five individuals responsible for her father’s death. Credit has to be given to artist Lukasz Piskorz who designed the levels, a noir-ish, cyberpunk-ish array of office buildings and computers, in a deliberate pastiche of Tom Francis’s Gunpoint which was released in 2013.
Would I personally buy this game? Much like my attitude towards French Fries and Milkshakes… yeah, why not?
Ronin is now available for Windows for download on STEAM and is currently being optimized for OS X, Linux, and the Playstation 4 and Vita.