One of the forces that drive gamers to play is curiosity. We want to explore every single part of a game to answer any questions we may have about it. Roguelike and roguelite games take a different approach to this desire through their use of RNG. We can play through as much as we like and still not know what will be thrown at us, even if we recognize the enemies and items. Ruin Raiders throws us into a crumbling structure with a few units and fatal encounters around every corner. All we can do is stock up and hope we’re prepared, which is why art designer Rodrigo Palomino of the OverPowered Team braces us for what’s to come.
Ruinous Gameplay in Ruin Raiders
Ruin Raiders is a turn-based tactical game with roguelike elements. You control a trio of anthropomorphic animals who must use their skills and weapons to fight their way to the bottom of the ruins. It’s designed for multiple runs, and you’ll never have the same characters twice. “Each run always has a new set of characters, even if you complete the run successfully,” said Palomino.
The goal is to guide your soldiers to the Gate of Dawn, a legendary doorway said to lead to paradise. However, there’s much about this world that remains a mystery since “the story in this game is told through fragments that you loot throughout the dungeon.”
“You can see the point of view of different people that lived in the ruins before they were lost,” said Palomino. This encourages players to explore thoroughly in order to find the lore answers they seek. “This is totally a made-up world, humans never existed, there’s pretty much no explanation."
The characters you play are all anthropomorphic animals. Ruin Raiders “planned on launching with six different races” which include rhinos, dogs, cats, frogs, crows, and walruses. Palomino has expressed the possibility of adding more through DLCs “if everything goes well.”
Though there isn’t an official release date, Palomino is confident that the team will launch the full game at the end of the year on both PC and Switch, with possible plans to port it to other consoles.
Building The Ruins
Despite some of the serious tones of the game’s setting and story, the aesthetics are quite pleasant and friendly. Palomino said of himself and his fellow artist Pablo Monroy: “Both of us like this stylized art, and it’s the one we’re most comfortable with.” This is evident in the team’s previous title Godstrike, which has similar visuals.
Ruin Raiders is the creation of five people. “We met in college and started developing Godstrike as our final project,” said Palomino. Alongside this project, the team began working on their first official title. “We’ve been working on Ruin Raiders for a year and a half… We started developing it while we were also working on Godstrike.”
Although the game was created by this small indie team, the music came from another source. "All the audio and music of the game is done by our partners at Redforge Games,” said Palomino.
Even though the team members met at school and worked well together, development wasn’t always smooth sailing. “The biggest challenge we had to overcome was probably balancing everything out… These tactical shooters require a lot of strategy while you play, and you want every fight to be a challenge," Palomino said. "We had to work a lot into making the early game feel fun always, even if you have played five minutes or 20 hours into the game."
One of the first things you’ll see in the demo is a disclaimer warning that you'll likely fail the first few runs. The good news is that the game is paced fast enough that you can do several runs within an hour without getting bored since each run changes.
Combing The Ruins
During development and prior to its release, Ruin Raiders went through extensive playtesting. While the game was shared among testers, arguably no one played it more than the creators, and that includes Palomino. “Initially, I was really lost in the game… I’ve really started to understand the other games and appreciate them even more,” Palomino said, opening up about familiarizing himself with this genre.
The Ruin Raiders demo showcases the first floor and biome of the world. You can get a feel for the RNG, character customization, and mechanics. You’ll fight plenty of biome-themed enemies with varied tactics. Though you only get to see this floor of the Ruins, Palomino confirmed that there will be up to three distinct environments.
“This game is going to have more stuff in it from the things you can see in the demo," Palomino said. "We’re going to have more than 100 different types of items, weapons, and perks for the raiders to choose, so you can customize them in very different ways for each run. And hopefully, you’ll like it when we release it at the end of this year.”
The Gate Of Dawn Awaits in Ruin Raiders
Ruin Raiders has been steadily gaining attention through social media, its status as a Humble Original, and recent interviews alongside E3. It's also being supported by the indie publisher Freedom Games that's also responsible for OverPowered Team's previous title, Godstrike. The demo has been played on various platforms generating a lot of positive feedback and interest in the full game. Though Palomino said that the demo won’t change from its current state, it covers the most appealing aspects of the game.
It shows a world with hidden lore about animal soldiers plundering the depths of an abandoned civilization in hopes of finding salvation. It effectively combines the slow pace of turn-based strategy with the fast pace of RNG to keep sessions smooth and dynamic. It may be a little rough around the edges, but Palomino and the rest of his team will be polishing these ruins before opening them to raiders.
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