RONIN

RONIN

RONIN is an action-platformer with stealth elements and extremely unusual turn-based combat centered on acrobatically dodging bullets and lining up precision sword strikes. It plays like a combination of three indie classics – Gunpoint, Hotline Miami, and Mark of the Ninja – and it’s considerably worse than all of them. What’s especially frustrating about this is that a game of comparable quality exists at its core, if only it had been more thoroughly tested and refined. One of the in-game hints explains that the player’s jump arc indicator doesn’t take into account all information and won’t necessarily be accurate. It’s completely representative of the game as a whole that the developer chose to include this hint rather than just fix the fucking jump arc indicator.

When the game works as intended, it’s a violent ballet of calculated movements and endlessly-satisfying defenestration kills, but so much of its design impedes that intended experience. On top of the unreliable jumping mechanics, platforms always seem to be deliberately placed just out of convenient range. Entering combat restricts movement exclusively to exaggerated leaps and grappling hook swings, so actions that could be easily performed by just walking or climbing a few feet can become comically difficult. Lastly, the stealth elements are distinctly underdeveloped, so acquiring upgrade points for going undetected often requires exploiting inconsistent quirks of the AI. It’s for this reason that the final level is the best, as it eschews stealth in favour of freeform chaos. It also uses a sophisticated narrative gimmick that finally livens up an otherwise barely-present story.

4/10
4/10

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