Lone Ruin Review (Switch)

Come on, I only need to survive for five more seconds…

Released: January 12, 2023
Available on: Switch/Steam
Genre: Twin Stick Shooter Roguelike
Developer: Cuddle Monster Games
Publisher: Super Rare Originals
Review key provided by developers

Surprisingly enough, I don’t think I played that many twin stick shooters. I can count the amount I’ve played on one hand and it’s not for the reason that I just came to dislike the genre. More like, not a lot of games that fall into the twin stick shooter genre catches my attention. So you can guess that when I became aware of a game called Lone Ruin, I was drawn in just enough that I wanted to play it by its unique art direction and exciting-looking gameplay.

Lone Ruin has two modes you can play and I’ll first talk about the Campaign Mode. Although it isn’t necessarily called a campaign, I’ll refer it as such for ease. Not much is said as you see the nameless main character you play cast her gaze upon a city cast in purple before entering. This purple city is actually an ancient city that was built on top of a mysterious ancient power source. Mages used to use this power source for, well, power. Those that lived here used to live with harmony with the magic, but one day everyone was driven mad and the very magic around them twisted them into the very enemies you’ll find yourself facing. No one seemed to be able to find out why this city was corrupted, whether no mages went to find out or those that did never came out is not said.

That is, until the nameless character you play as come into the picture. As an explorer that also happens to be a spellcaster, you decide to make your way to the center of the city to find out what caused the corruption and to finally cleanse the magic here.

Diving into a run, you’ll find yourself in a room with a few mannequins and a strange man that will let you choose which spell will be your starter, and main, spell. You get access to all eight main spells, with three randomly chosen ones getting a starting upgrade. All eight play differently based on how they’re handled, the amount of damage it does, the possible cooldown it has, and how many charges it possibly had. To give few as an example, you can take Barrage which will get a bunch of shots ready as you’re holding it down, ready to be launched at the enemies when you let go. Or you can have a Boomerang to hit enemies both when you throw it and when you recall it. There is even one melee weapon, in the form of a scythe, which is risky, but you can slice away bullets and you can get lucky enough to get a lifesteal upgrade. You also start with a Dash spell so you can dash out of the way of incoming bullets, though there is a cooldown to worry over.

After you pick your main spell, you’ll be going into a bunch of rooms where you’ll face enemies in waves. The amount of waves you have to get through is given to you so you don’t have to guess how many enemies you still need to defeat. Once you pass the entrance, it begins as the first wave spawns, with following ones either spawning after you fully defeat the wave or after a certain amount of time. Enemies vary, and you encounter different enemies as you continue and descend levels, and some will get up close and personal with some relying on their long range bullets, with each enemy having their own attack style. Early on, it’s pretty easy to handle, but as you get further in it can get hectic.

I’d be careful though, as while the room layouts can give you elevated section or a section you can funnel enemies into, they also have spaces that you can fall off of. Funnily enough, enemies themselves can fall and die. I even had enemies where they hurt by slamming down on you end up slamming into you jump off the edge or into water only to drown soon after.

Unless the next room is the boss room, you’ll get to choose between two doors to go into, telling you what reward you’ll get if you complete it. This can range from a spell upgrade, a shop (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t count towards the room count), or a blessing or another spell to pick up. Blessings are basically items you can pick up to give you perks like increasing health drops or shooting projectiles whenever you get it; with the additional spells being ones that are more secondary like throwing a black hole to enemies or throwing up ice as a shield.

Talking about bosses, I quite liked the bosses here. All three are different and hectic in their own way. Though, their attack patterns are based in RNG. You can get lucky to get easily dodgeable attacks all in a row, or get ones that you find yourself having difficulties dodging constantly.

Personally, I had a lot of luck picking Chain Lightning as my starting spell, filling my other spell slots with ones I ended up using a lot (based on previous tries), and basically taking risks with the blessings I grab. Picking up the double edge sword blessing may be a risk, as it doubles damage I take and deal, but it did help me get far. Plus sprinkle on some bit of luck and I was able to get closer and closer to the end until I was able to make it.

I do hope this mode gets updated and built on. Part of me does want the story detailed in the game’s about section actually in the game, but I also did come to wish that there were more floors for you to descend. Not to mention different enemies and more bosses to learn their attack patterns and fight against. Also, I would like to be able to leave a run midway through without losing my progress. Runs don’t feel like they run too long, but sometimes I did have to leave the game in the middle of an attempt and I would hate to do it if I was particularly lucky.

There is also a Survival Mode that you can dive into, which seems to be the main draw to Lone Ruin. If you played the Campaign Mode before Survival, you’ll be fighting against the same enemies but with a twist. You’ll need to try and survive for 10 minutes while enemies are continuously spawned in waves (every 10 seconds if I’m correct in my observations). From the start, you only get a choice between three randomly selected main spells. “But how do you get upgrades?” I hear you (probably) asking. This has you leveling up, with the coins that enemies drop being EXP points. Each level up will give you three random choices which range from a heal, an additional spell, a spell upgrade, or a blessing.

Oh, and did I mention Survival Mode gets more difficult as time passes? The easier enemies, which show up first in Campaign Mode, spawn in the first few minutes of Survival, but you’ll notice all the other enemies will spawn in as you pass the minute milestones. Hopefully you can either dodge or built up a build that will let you clear enemies. And hopefully you’re not like me and end up dying after 9 minutes and 55 seconds.

I can see some being concerned on enemy and bullet visibility, as while this does look cool, it means nothing if you can’t see danger. It actually is easy to see enemies and their bullets, with the only time I didn’t see an enemy was due to it being perfectly against a corner.

Both modes let you choose between easy, medium, and hard difficulty (just make sure to switch before going into one of the modes). Based on what I could tell, this alters how much health you have, how much health your enemies have, and how many enemies spawn in with each wave. The higher the difficulty, the lower your own health will be, the enemies health will become higher, and the more enemies that will spawn. Making Hard difficulty truly hard as you have to be a master at dodging while also making sure to take out enough enemies so you won’t be overwhelmed later on with the help of carefully picked upgrades.

Lone Ruin does have a lot of replayability if you so wish. Once you reach the end of the campaign mode, you can decide to do it again, either trying to get a better score or to try to get to the end using a different main spell. With Survival Mode, you can aim to get your score higher with each try. If you’re competitive, you can also try to stay on top of the leaderboard of your choice (and I really hope this game’s leaderboards are left alone by cheaters, at least for a long while).

In terms of performance, it runs well on the Switch for the most part, but I did notice some slowdown when there is a lot going on the screen. It can be detrimental to a run, as I did notice dashes and certain spells taking a second longer to register, though luckily none of my runs ended because of this so far. Lone Ruin does let you enable or disable certain graphical settings, which I can see help alleviate this problem.


I wasn’t so sure about Lone Ruin when I first started, but it really sucked me in as I played more. It got addicting trying to make it further into the campaign mode and survival mode, getting me to start new runs without a second thought and only stopping when my Switch needed to be charged. I’d say that Lone Ruin would be a good game to pick up if you’re craving a new twin stick shooter that has a unique look and has a lot of replay potential that stems from using different weapons and perfecting your build as you climb the leaderboards. Though, those that want more content, like more areas in the campaign and more lore, would be disappointed in those aspects lacking here.

If you’d ask me whether you should pick Lone Ruin up for the Switch or for PC, I’d say it’s entirely up to how you want to play. Would you want to play this mainly with a mouse and keyboard or with a controller? If you don’t mind either way, or would play with a controller anyway, I would recommend the Switch as it’ll give you an option to take it on the go (helpful if you don’t want to end a run just yet) or play in more comfortable places like while in bed.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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