E3 going digital this year has had its many drawbacks and unfortunately the conference floor going “virtual” has been a difficult adjustment for all. But perhaps one upside to this digital experiment is the chance for smaller indie devs that might otherwise be unable to make it to Los Angeles to showcase their work in a setting that behoves them better.
I was fortunate enough to sit down (in as much as Discord is a sit down) with the small dev team at Overpowered Team prior to E3 weekend and check out their new tactical turn base roguelike, Ruin Raiders, for a brief demo preview and chat about their development.
For this small team of five from Spain the pandemic has had its difficulties on their development processes and forced them to change up their project plans, calling pauses to certain developments in motion. But even still not only have Overpowered Team pulled out a winner in their slower tactical rogue like, they also managed to release Godstrike—a frantic 3D boss rush Bullet Hell game—in April of this year too.
With Ruin Raiders Overpowered Team sought something of an antidote to the franticly paced, quick burst of Godstrike—hence the methodical turn-based tactics title with an onus on long replayability. What they have on their hands now is a title that will be welcomed by XCOM veterans and newbies alike as Ruin Raidersscratches the itch of turn based tactical shooting while somewhat simplifying the formula for new entrants with an ease of accessibility and playability (although that ease certainly does not extend to the difficulty of the game itself!).
In our 30-minute preview we looked at the mining biome of Ruin Raiders with a quick taste of what more to expect from the full release later this 2021 for PC and Nintendo Switch.
A Pickup and Play Tactics Shooter
Ruin Raiders is designed with its platform in mind. The simplicity of its tactic’s gameplay and the replayability of its roguelike style makes for a game that Overpowered Team hope will be a perfect fit for the more pickup-and-play platform of the Nintendo Switch. With just my 30 minutes Ruin Raiders easily showed itself to be a game that will be ideal for the “one quick round” mindset suited to a platform like the Switch—and I’ll bet before you know it that “one quick round” will have turned into a 3am binge too.
Ruin Raiders sees your brave team of “Ruin Raiders”—an anthropomorphised squad of animals – descending into the ruins of an ancient civilisation hoping to find what few resources they may have left behind while potentially uncovering, too, quite what went wrong with this previous society. Your squad is made up of your favourite pets with each “race” possessing different character traits and abilities to allow you to really round out your squad to suit your playstyle.
Of course, in true XCOM style you can rename these squad members to your own liking—but be warned: death is permanent and close attachments are only going to hurt more so once you name your favourite raider dog after your own household pets!
For Overpowered Team, the narrative of Ruin Raiders is intended as a nice backdrop for what they hope will be a nonstop romp of tactics-based fun and roguelike replayability. Aside from a brief intro cinematic the narrative takes a backseat for the most part to allow you to just keep your game loop going. The world is filled, however, with collectable texts and environmental clues to fill out the fragmented pieces of narrative of this world, should you choose to look for it. For example, the game’s shopkeeper is a Giraffe inexplicably stuck in a hole, with just his long neck pointing out to allow you to shop from his wares. Quite why or how this Giraffe is stuck was alluded to earlier in a text log we found, and if you want to know more you’re going to have to play more and do some exploring. It’s a fun way to keep you playing and curious for story should you want it.
Crafted Procedural Generation and Replayability
As expected of a roguelike, the game’s “dungeons” are procedurally generated meaning that every run should be different. However, the dev team were quick to point out that every world has its own rooms that are very specifically crafted, not random. The intention being that combat scenarios should be more like puzzles designed meticulously by the team, not just random scenarios with enemies thrown anywhere. With this you’re going to need a varying set of “solutions” in your squad to “crack” each room, as it were.
Depending on the number and variations of these “puzzles”, it might be possible that after a while of play you’ll start to easily recognise these patterns and move through them without issue, potentially watering down the overall experience after a while. However, Overpowered Team are confident in the game’s replayability so perhaps this won’t be a problem—plus there is always the added variable of the tactic’s shooter RNG God throwing you a string of missed shots to really mix things up.
The hope too is that with a larger range of craftable and customisable weapons and items, and the variation afforded by different squad abilities, Ruin Raiders will possess a particular longevity in its replay value.
Overpowered Team expressed their plans and hopes to add more all the time to the game if it were to pull in a strong community and sell well. With the different race types of the squad integral to the game, for one, continued support would allow them to add more character types with new abilities. New biomes too would be possible to keep up the freshness of the title and give more to those hardcore few that stick with the game upon release.
As seen with the breakout success of Hades last year on Switch and PC, such a dream is possible particularly with the model that Overpowered are adopting with Ruin Raiders. I implore you to pick it up upon release later on this year for Switch and PC to help them achieve so.
If you love XCOM then this is a nice pickup to keep that tactics itch tided over every once and a while. If you love the pickup and play replayability of Hades then this is your new handy “hour-a-day” Switch roguelike. If you’re new to both genres then this is an excellent access point for either.