GENRE: Indie, Turn-Based, Stealth, Action
DEV: Tomasz Waclawek
If you just read the genre section above this you may be confused. However that is not a mistake. This is a stealth, turn-based, action game that is very similar to the popular title "Mark of the Ninja". To make your way through levels you must plan ahead to assassinate your target and any bodyguards in your way. If you show yourself too early you'll have no where to run with dozens of guns pointed at you. But if you fail to show yourself at crucial moments the enemies will take the chance to put the building on lock down. Take revenge on those who ended the life of your father by assassinating all of them, one at a time.
In Ronin you play as the vengeful heroine who wants revenge on those responsible for the death of her father. These people were his friends and the main character has been dreaming of taking revenge for their betrayal. There are 5 influential and powerful figures within your father's former business conglomerate that are responsible. You must go through the missions and get information as to their location. And one you get that location you find and hunt down each and every one of them. Some of them are heads of their science department, some of them are formidable warriors, and some of them are old men who are ready to see their end of days.
Ronin has a story that is a classic revenge plot. It is rather straightforward and doesn't earn points for creativity. It does however give purpose to going through each of the 15 levels. Frankly this is a game more focused on gameplay than the story. And when I'm fighting my way from building to building the story isn't what keeps me going. However you actions on the last level do influence the ending of the game.
In Ronin you use a number of tools to sneak past enemies. You can climb up ceilings and walls, and you can use your grapple hook to cover large distances. When in the darkness enemies won't be able to see you unless they are already suspicious of your presence. Use the darkness to sneak up on the guards and take them out. However you have to be careful of where you take out the enemies. The other guards will be suspicious if you are sloppy. And when guards get suspicious things can get a little... messy.
The first time you get caught the game reminds you that this is an action game. When you are spotted you are given time to decide your next move. Use this time to take out all the guards without having them set off the alarm. Your options are nearly limitless and you have to use your creativity and foresight to win fights.
In Ronin you have a resource bar that allows you to complete special actions. You can create a clone, throw your weapon, retract your weapon, throw stun darts, and even teleport with your limit bar. Killing guards refills this and you must manage the use of this resource bar to make it through rooms filled with enemies. The enemies vary from pistol carrying agents, to machine gun wielding soldiers, or even skilled samurai that won't fall easily to one sword strike. You must dodge and navigate through the area will creating a path to take out all enemies before you.
Once you defeat the enemies you have to sneak past innocents and hack into terminals to gain access to your objective. Whether that be intelligence or opening a locked door. Once you complete the level you gain points to level up your skills if you completed the mission and killed all guards, also if you didn't kill any innocents and if you completed the level without setting off an alarm.
There is a degree of replay value within Ronin. After you beat the game initially there is a hard mode where each and every action must be considered. In normal mode players can get away with slashing past each guard without much thought. However in the harder difficulties you are forced to plan ahead. When you plan comes together and is executed to perfection there is a great feeling of satisfaction. It is similar to completing a puzzle, except with more violence and ninjas. And after you finish your goal you escape to your trusty motorcycle to take out the next target.
Soundtrack and AtmosphereA high point for Ronin is it's entire vibe. The backdrops and artstyle have a cyberpunk feel to it and the soundtrack only contributes to that. As a sucker for the whole cyberpunk aesthetic I greatly enjoyed the world of Ronin. You scale dark futuristic buildings with music that brings calm intensity to the gameplay. "Swordpoint" and "It's Raining Now and Forever" are songs that accompany the game very well. As you travel through the levels you cut through all your enemies with a simple sword. Ronin isn't the most beautiful game I've seen and while the soundtrack goes well with the game it isn't something I would listen to outside of it.
Final Thoughts:Ronin isn't a literary masterpiece. The game's story has all the tropes of a typical revenge story. This game however was not made as a story driven game. The gameplay is what makes Ronin worth picking up. In a lot of stealth games you can get away with running into rooms guns blazing and if your mechanics are good enough you can take out every enemy before they can take you out. In Ronin you actions are limited and in harder difficulties foresight is a necessity to success. The feeling when clear out a room flawlessly, when you figure out the perfect move or when you style on an enemy is extremely gratifying. As you unlock more abilities your options are opened up more and more. Once this happens Ronin becomes an incredibly fun game. It's hard to describe the genre for Ronin because it truly is mixed. There are times when you have to be stealthy, and there are times when you get the chance to cut loose, and yet in all of those scenarios a certain degree of strategy is required.
Other reviews I have read have mentioned problems with the game's mechanics. Apparently when you grapple corners at a certain angle it bugs out. Personally I did not see this issue often and when I did it was because of my own mistake.
Ronin is a rather short game with a good amount of re-playabilty. However it is not something everyone has to play. It is fun for what it is but it isn't a must-play. Ronin is a game I recommend picking up if you see it on sale or in a bundle. It is a very solid title that will bring you enjoyment for a good amount of hours.