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Army of Ruin

Army of Ruin

A Vampire Survivors challenger emerges. We've put the new Army of Ruin to the test to see how it stacks up against the blood-sucking genre giant.

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So-called "Bullet Hells" and "Auto Shooters" are nothing new, but with last year's smash hit Vampire Survivors in mind, it's clear that the genre is once again on the rise. The new title Army of Ruin does the right thing in its attempt to follow the resurrected trend, and despite a lack of identity, it delivers an adventure that can easily stand side by side with its biggest inspirations.

Army of Ruin

Just like in the aforementioned Vampire Survivors, this colourful indie adventure is all about resisting hordes upon hordes of attacking enemy forces, and each round is unique in that you start from scratch and collect new abilities along the way. The roguelike elements that have become popular in this type of game then come in the form of unlocking new accessories and weapons to use, and you also collect currency that can be spent to make you stronger from round to round. Thus, even though each round takes place in a vacuum, you are constantly progressing, and there are always new things to unlock and new challenges to conquer.

The challenge is carefully balanced in Army of Ruin as it starts simple and then puts your dexterity to the test as time goes on. Because even though it is an "Auto Shooter", you have to maneuver your character through a sea of enemies, and knowing when to attack, or when to put your legs on your back, is as usual the key to success. Some courses then require you to clear just ten waves of enemies, while others offer timeless battles to survive as long as you can. With greater challenges come greater rewards, and as there are always new items to purchase, you're constantly pushed to push your abilities to the limit.

Army of Ruin
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One thing that distinguishes Army of Ruin from Vampire Survivors is that the characters offer more differences in how they play against each other. In Survivors, each playable character has a unique addition along with unique attributes while in Army of Ruin they also have active abilities. The knight Ariana, for example, has the passive benefit of increasing her strength after every five levels she gains while also having a special attack that protects her from incoming danger. The special abilities for each character mean that the rounds can be quite different depending on who you choose to control, and there's plenty of variety as some characters focus on surviving with high health meters and protective spells while others reward more damage and larger attack patterns.

Army of Ruin

The levels themselves then deserve some extra praise as they do a lot to keep the rounds fresh, even after hours of play. With its child-friendly 3D graphics, the battles offer more detail than what you are used to from Vampire Survivor's blocky pixels, and with its own circadian rhythms and special effects in everything from explosions to magic, it is mostly a visual wonder from start to finish. A total of five different maps are offered to master, and it's hard to complain about the variety here too as everything from green forests, eerie cemeteries and abandoned factories are included in the mix while each battlefield has its unique enemies available so you never have to fight the same monsters over and over again.

The music then ties the whole experience together superbly, accompanying all the intense on-screen action with a punchy soundtrack that keeps your pulse beating faster and faster. We're talking about symphonic synth parts that wouldn't be out of place in any Castlevania adventure, and even if the sound effects themselves could have had a little more pressure in them, the music makes the soundscape reach well above an acceptable level.

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Army of Ruin

Ultimately, Army of Ruin is an incredibly pleasant surprise, and along with Dredge is one of the best indie games of the year for me. While it can be argued that this is more like Vampire Survivors in a revamped guise, the visuals do wonders to keep the playability fresh, and with a superb focus on the game mechanics, it offers an adventure that can stand alongside its competitors without shame. If this type of game is your thing, you should get Army of Ruin right now, you won't regret it.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Great graphics, lovely playability, wonderful music and nice add-ons.
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No real identity
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Army of Ruin

REVIEW. Written by Joakim Sjögren

A Vampire Survivors challenger emerges. We've put the new Army of Ruin to the test to see how it stacks up against the blood-sucking genre giant.



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