An action-adventure romp by League of Legends lore
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story had the playing cards stacked in opposition to it. As a standalone RPG set firmly on the earth of League of Legends, it has to attraction to each hardcore League followers and gamers who’ve by no means touched the sport. That’s no simple feat, and it will be simple for Ruined King to oversteer too onerous in a single path or one other. However developer Airship Syndicate retains a agency hand on the wheel all through, guiding the participant by a fantasy RPG bursting with character.
In Ruined King, I take management of a squad of champions from League lore who borrow a few of their instruments from the unique MOBA design. Illaoi, a Kraken Priestess, ramps up energy over time as she summons extra spectral tentacles, which she will be able to then use to heal her mates or crush her enemies. Braum, a pleasant fellow with an enormous defend and greater biceps, serves as my crew’s tank. In the meantime, offensive characters like Miss Fortune — a pirate captain with a pair of pistols — concentrate on doling out harm from the again line.
Constructing a celebration and experimenting with totally different combos are pillars of longform, turn-based RPGs, and Ruined King doesn’t disappoint. Fight rapidly falls into a cushty but cerebral rhythm of backwards and forwards. I can snap off an on the spot means, like a taunt, a defend, or a regular assault, or I can select a extra highly effective “lane means.”
As soon as I’ve chosen my lane means, I can select between three choices: a Pace, Stability, or Energy assault. The labels are fairly self-explanatory, however what’s fascinating is how they have an effect on the character’s place on the “initiative” grid. An influence assault may hit onerous and really feel good, however it might additionally depart my character in a lifeless zone of poison mist. Some enemies are weak to sure assaults; a Pace assault may disarm a bomb, for instance. All of this makes fight a fragile dance.
I spend a great chunk of my time in Ruined King in fight, however far more time within the overworld. Ruined King is ready in two areas: the pirate metropolis of Bilgewater, and the mysterious spectral Shadow Isles. I discuss to inhabitants, gather lore paperwork, resolve puzzles, and discover lushly detailed environments. It’s typical RPG fare, the place exploring the overworld is half the pleasure, and I pore over each inch of each worlds in quest of secrets and techniques. Airship Syndicate creates the phantasm of a cutthroat, thriving port extremely nicely. These islands hardly present up in League of Legends correct, however Ruined King succeeds in making them really feel like precise locations with their very own histories.
Whereas the overworld is vibrant and welcoming, Ruined King performs it too safely on the narrative facet. Every League champion is launched with a fast biography, so League newbies can get caught up, whereas veterans don’t have to look at cutscenes about revelations they already know. However whereas a few the characters have strong tales, a lot of them do little greater than provide colour commentary on proceedings.
Certain, it’s enjoyable to look at the gang banter and get to know each other, however if you happen to’re on the lookout for the character selections and deep, philosophical dialog timber that you simply may get from a Divinity: Authentic Sin 2 or Baldur’s Gate 3, Ruined King by no means dives that deep. Some solid members get a satisfying story, and others stay in stasis for enormous chunks of the sport.
This isn’t helped by the truth that the overworld dialogue largely stays the identical regardless of which social gathering member I inhabit. Braum can toss a bit of poro beast down a small hall on occasion, or Illaoi can learn her individuals’s language on gadgets, however anytime I discuss to a quest giver I’ll get the identical well mannered — and restricted — dialogue timber. In contrast, the written lore saved world wide tends to be a bit of extra adventurous. I discovered paperwork starting from determined missives from doomed adventurers to sapphic poetry.
Ruined King can be stuffed with facet quest content material — together with a fishing minigame — however on decrease difficulties a lot of it’s redundant. For those who’re enjoying on Regular or Story problem, you’ll be able to merely ignore a whole lot of the Lane mechanics in non-boss fight, and overworld methods like crafting and cooking rapidly turn out to be pointless as nicely. On Regular, I’m always selecting up mud and leathers I don’t care about as I raid temples and ruins.
Then there are some little, cloying points, like having to look at the identical quick cutscenes play out each time I exploit a personality’s final, or having to always inform the sport I don’t wish to undergo a map tutorial. (I understand how to make use of a map!) I additionally discovered myself sighing each time I sat down as a result of I had misplaced a few battles’ value of progress regardless of manually saving, or I needed to manually enhance the pace of fight each time.
However these points don’t detract from a incredible RPG journey that’s full of lovely creatures and satisfying pulp. Certain, there are some ancillary methods that come off as filler, and the narrative isn’t essentially the most spectacular piece of writing, however that’s OK. Ruined King is a enjoyable romp by beautiful environments with a crew of likable misfits. Airship Syndicate doesn’t reinvent the wheel, however it didn’t have to — Ruined King nonetheless manages to function an ideal on-ramp to each League of Legends lore and RPGs usually.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story was launched on Nov. 16. The sport was reviewed by Epic Video games Retailer utilizing a obtain code supplied by Riot Video games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You could find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.