Ruined King is something special. After the game’s surprise release at the Riot Forge Showcase on November 16th, many people haven’t heard of the game, or just learned about it. While League of Legend fans could enjoy a brand new game, League of Legends naysayers wondered what kind of game it was. A diverse set of champions, a unique twist on turn-based combat, and an established world to explore, Ruined King: A League of Legends Story invites everyone to experience a comprehensive epic adventure.
To keep this out of the way, you don’t need to know anything about League of Legends to understand and/or enjoy this game. Ruined King, while it exists in Runeterra and brings together familiar League of Legends champions, stands entirely on its own. And for people concerned that Ruined King is more about League of Legends gameplay, fear not. It is a single-player isometric turn-based RPG that offers a lot of experimentation and exploration.
FIGHT: ALLEY MECHANIC
The shining star of Ruined King is the fight. Riot Forge and Airship Syndicate make Ruined King’s combat unbeatable – it’s the addition of an alley mechanic. No doubt borrowed from the lane meta of League of Legends itself, the lane mechanic works to provide players with a risk-reward system, keeping combat always fresh.
It works like this: On each champion turn, they can use one of their mana-requiring abilities in the speed lane, balance lane, or power lane. By choosing the fast lane, you are sacrificing the effectiveness of your abilities for the higher initiative that might be required to play in front of the enemy or even teammates. Leyline, on the other hand, makes your abilities stronger but slower, which means you will often attack the enemy and your teammates. The balanced streak, as the name suggests, is all about some speed and power.
The alley mechanic makes the battle more player-focused moments. If the enemy is attacking and you need to heal teammates, you can strategically use the fast lane to get right in front of the enemy attack. If you have a powerful attack ready, you can use the ley line to inflict maximum pain while your other teammates take another turn or two to cover you. This is an ingenious system that has revolutionized the step by step formula.
COMBAT: DANGEROUS ZONES
Combined with the lane mechanic, these are dangerous zones. As you would expect in a turn-based RPG, each opponent brings something new to the fight. In Ruined King, each enemy and boss places a specific danger zone on top of the alley mechanic, and if they don’t, a random danger zone will be selected. These danger zones create a certain field in fast, balanced and powerful lanes (sometimes all lanes, sometimes only one) where certain positive or negative actions will take place.
For example, there could be an attack boost zone that will boost the attack power of all players and opponents for their next action, or a black fog zone that will damage all allies that end their turn in that zone. While the alley mechanic changes the battlefield in and of itself, danger zones create even more strategy and decision-making opportunities.
CHAMPIONS AND TEAM SYNERGY
Ruined King provides players with six different champions, but limits battles to a team of three. Because of this, there are so many fun and distinctive party combinations. Each champion can be boiled down to three main roles in all video games: tank, DPS, and healer, with most of these overlapping with another category. Because of this, a successful group composition usually means that the same champions will have slight variations.
Once you’ve found a team that works for you, it doesn’t take much for you to abandon it and experiment with other champions. Take, for example, the combination of Braum, Ahri and Yasuo, a truly powerful trio. Braum, the tank, uses Unbreakable to force all enemies to target him, applies damage shields with Stand By Me and Poro-Snax, and can apply buffs with Inspiring Presence and get rid of debuffs with Porogeddon. Ahri uses Essense Theft stacks to constantly heal his party by dealing damage. Spirit Mend, once upgraded, can be used in the ley lane to heal everyone and used in the fast lane to revive a knockout champion. Yasuo can stack Steel Tempest and unleash Raging Wind for zero mana.
He can also use Eye of the Wind to boost his party crit rating and equip items that already boost his crit stat so he always deals devastating damage. Once I discovered this team, I had no reason to change it as it was a winning combination.
On top of that, some champions, especially fighters, often feel the same way. Yasuo, Miss Fortune, and Pike, being special in their own right, can feel very similar, which is a bummer. With Ahri, Illaoi, and even Braum, playstyles can vary greatly in each game. Yasuo, Miss Fortune, and Pike might seem stale in comparison. By adding a champion summoner, totem user, or sorceress, more variety can be achieved.
The big picture in Ruined King is fascinating, but beauty happens between each champion. Since each Champion is seemingly unrelated to each other, especially Braum, who doesn’t belong to Bilgewater at all, their personal motivations and reasons for why they band together and continue the quest are both plausible and fascinating. Interpersonal stories worth mentioning are Illaoi’s crisis of faith and her curiosity about Pike and Ms. Fortune’s desire to rule, as well as her feud with Gangplank.
PUZZLE, BUGS AND SAVE
When you’re not fighting Mistwalkers or Corrupted Trees, each quest has you solving some kind of puzzle. While puzzles are solvable and often fun, running around not knowing what to do is not. This doesn’t mean I want golden arrows to lead me straight to where I need to go, but some context in a quest guide or map would go a long way.
These days, bugs are becoming more and more common in games. And while we hope these bugs will be fixed with future patches, playing on the first day of the game may test your patience. At the end of the fight, after the champions gained experience, my game crashed. This happened about seven or eight times in my 20 hours of play. Minor bugs here and there are forgivable, but there are no game crashes after a 20-minute battle.
Ruined King has a lot of quality of life improvements like Quick Strike and Combat Speed multiplied by two options, but outside of combat, especially in regards to saves, it’s terrible. Combined with the annoying bugs of the game, and especially at higher difficulty levels, you need to constantly save money. The destroyed king will win by strongly pressing the quick save button right on the pause screen. Instead of scrolling through the pause menu to the end, going to the save menu, and then saving, you can press one button, quickly save, and immediately return to the action. In a game that can already quickly become repetitive, make a mistake, fail to save, and die only to replay the last hour of gameplay you just completed is a tedious and avoidable task.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is not to be missed. If you’re skeptical about League of Legends, don’t particularly like turn-based games, or think this game will be boring, do yourself a favor and play it. This game will surprise you with exciting dungeons, dynamic boss battles, unique combat mechanics and adorable characters. As the first of its kind for Riot Games, we hope more complex titles like Ruined King can find a place in the spotlight.