Ronin has style, a lot of style. From the first moment you control your character you know you are about to do some serious stylish kills, I mean, it’s called Ronin, which in japan is a term used to describe wandering Samurai that had no master.
Ronin has been compared to Gunpoint, specifically in the structure of the levels and the way the game controls, but believe me… it’s not. In fact the more you play it the more you get feel that Ronin is a very different beast. Ronin is an Action-Stealth game in its core with a battle system that could seem simple at first, but once you get it, you are in for a ride. Once you taste the blood of your enemies you will need more of it, and you will look good doing it.
Some people think turn-based combat is a thing of the past, but Tomasz Wacławek has outdone himself with the way combat works in Ronin. You can move freely and in most situations the game encourages you to go for stealth kills, but where the combat shines is when you are actually detected by the enemy. You get limited movement each turn: first, trace the trajectory of your jump to the enemy you want to take out, you can either bump him or try to land near him, after this happens you will get options to take him out with your sword or use the many skills you have unlocked, like: throwing your sword at enemies, hanging them from the ceiling and even teleporting. it’s all about the style. At first, it doesn’t appear to have much depth but it’s an engaging system that encourages you to execute the levels perfectly.
Between the attacks the protagonist has and the music, you could feel the urge to try and dispatch every enemy in the fastest way as possible, but there’s a caveat, rushing to your objective rarely is the best approach in Ronin. Remember, this is a turn-based game, you need to really think of your actions, flailing your sword aimlessly won’t get you anywhere (at least until you get the teleport skill *wink* *wink*).
When in fights enemies with guns will point them at you, others will try to slash you with their swords, but an interesting aspect of this, is that this doesn’t happen immediately. Enemies use a turn to point their guns at you, represented by the red lines marking the trajectory of the enemy’s bullet or the direction of they will slash their swords, at that point you need to decide where you will jump to. If you’re going to try to dispatch an enemy, try to get out of the line of fire or push an enemy so that it hits another one that was about to kill you. Ronin’s combat system has somehow implemented puzzle elements in its turn-based gameplay.
How will you dispatch the enemies? Where should you jump to taking into consideration the submachine gun enemy that keeps firing in the same direction for two turns. This game makes you think, and if you do, you will then understand the deep combat it has.
By opting for a minimalistic style the player can focus on the action-packed fights, and quickly identify where an attack is coming from. Animation is swift and beautiful which helps in making you feel like a total badass when you kill those damn sword enemies for example.
Spoilers ahead...there is not much in the narrative department here. Its a typical story about revenge with five evil dudes that you have to kill because they had your dad done in. It feels like as an excuse to expose the great gameplay it has, but I wish I could have known more of the protagonist, maybe this is a world that deserves to be explored more.
In the end the absence of a strong plot doesn’t hinder the game, mainly because of the focus on action and how it fuels you want to complete all the side missions on each level.
The soundtrack for Ronin is really good but the lack of variety is lamentable. Normally while exploring the music is calm and encourages being cautious with your actions, but once you get into a fight, the music changes drastically to a more upbeat track, I often got carried away by the sudden change of rhythm and as consequence acted act without thinking. Just to reiterate, Ronin is not a mindless hack and slash, you need to think every action, as fast as possible, but knowing exactly what you are doing and how your actions will end. Don’t get me wrong, you will feel awesome by dispatching enemies to this soundtrack, I just feel there could have been so much more variety to it, a different track for each one of the 5 chapters would have been amazing.
The difficulty in Ronin is not an issue, its one of those that when you successfully dispatch every single enemy you will feel very good. The only problem I found was that when you die—and you will die a lot—you are taken to a loading screen that halts the pace of the game. I wish I could just have spawned fast and kept at it. How hard is it to reset a room and leave me at a checkpoint without going to the loading screen?
Now, don’t take this a major issue, if you get good at this game, you will feel like a God.
Does Ronin Lacks story? yes, Could if have used more music? yes; but most importantly, Did I have a lot of fun while playing it? Lets just say I’m going for a second run and probably a third.
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