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Ronin Review

Ronin is a mix of side-scrolling action and turn-based combat following a heroine’s quest for revenge.

Ronin on PC

I’ve seen a number of pretty interesting takes on the side-scrolling platformer genre in my time as a gamer. Ronin, by Devolver Digital, is yet another fresh take on this style, offering some unique twists that separate it from the crowd. Turn-based combat, an RPG-style skill tree, and difficult level objectives all come together to make this tale of vengeance a fun, challenging experience. Throw in the stylish art and sound design, and you’ve got a game that’s not only different, but something pretty cool.

Ronin Rooftops

Quite a bit of your time in this game is spent on rooftops or walls.

Ronin follows a sword-wielding heroine on a quest for revenge against five prominent corporate figures. Levels are broken up between information-gathering and assassination objectives, with plenty of enemies to dispatch along the way. While these foes are armed to the teeth with a variety of firearms, players must rely on their wits, skills, and swordplay to cut their path of destruction on the way to the target. The game’s curious turn-based combat means every single action must be carefully planned to dodge enemy fire, prevent the activation of alarms, and cut down those who stand in your path before moving on.

Ronin Crossfire

Enemy fire is outlined between turns, making it relatively easy to see where it’s going to be safe.

At first, Ronin‘s combat is a bit jarring. Since play outside of combat is free-moving, it can take a bit of adjusting to get used to the sudden stop-and-go action. Once you get the hang of it though, things still flow pretty well, and plentiful checkpoints help keep players from being thrown too far back in a level due to a single misstep. Learning the capabilities of each enemy you face is crucial as well. While the basic suit-clad corporate drone is armed with a single pistol, you’ll also face armor-plated samurai, machine gun-toting Robocop lookalikes, and several other dangerous combatants along the path. The strategy that goes into each battle becomes a deadly and, frankly, entirely enjoyable dance.

Ronin Massive Battle

Things definitely get hairy as the number of enemies — and bullets — increases as you progress.

Underneath Ronin‘s stylish looks, slick animations, and unique mechanics lies a somewhat haphazard story that’s told in fragments between each level or chapter. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s just enough to this that it keeps the game engaging for those who look for substance behind the style. Really, though, the game’s selling point is certainly the aesthetic and play, which generate a fantastic experience that’s sleek, well-designed, and beautiful. While some of the tougher, more heavily-populated areas became a bit frustrating, I loved nearly every minute of slashing my way through the corporate wasteland, using a grappling hook to smash through windows, and hacking my way through computers and doors.

Ronin Mine

Of course, gun-toting corporate goons aren’t the only danger in the world. Unless you like being blown up.

Altogether, Ronin creates an entirely novel experience that’s given a solid boost from the sound and graphic design. While some frustration crops up in enemy-heavy territory, some trial-and-error in addition to strategic thinking is more than enough to get through even the tightest squeezes. Outside of these moments, the game flows wonderfully, and I have no problem saying it’s well worth the $12.99 price on Steam just for its unique properties. Tossing in the great design, fun unlockable skills, and tough level challenges makes it a complete package that anyone looking for something different in the action-platformer genre owes a glance.

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