Lone Ruin Review – Rogue Synth

Lone Ruin Review - Rogue Synth
Photo Credit: Super Rare Originals
Lone Ruin Review - Rogue Synth

Lone Ruin is a game that knows what it’s all about. It sets out to deliver a twin-stick roguelike experience and accomplishes just that. But, unfortunately, it comes at the cost of the total package. While Lone Ruin has satisfying genre gameplay, it lacks everything else.

This isn’t the first foray into the genre for developer Cuddle Monster Games. Their first game, 2019’s Hell is Other Demons, is an action-platformer roguelike shooter. It features a synthwave soundtrack, intense boss fights, and roguelite elements in the action-platform genre. Lone Ruin is more of a traditional roguelike experience. You trade in the action platforming for twin-stick shooter gameplay. Levels play out similarly to another roguelike, Hades. Sadly, that’s where the similarities end. 

Lone Ruin’s Biggest Weakness Is a Lack of Content

Lone Ruin’s biggest failing is how shallow the game is. 

On the one hand, the game knows what it’s about. You’ll progress through a sequence of stages by defeating a rush of enemies. Every now and then, a boss fight is thrown into the equation. Combat plays like a standard twin-stick shooter. Players can focus on weapon builds to help keep things fresh. One run can concentrate on a melee-heavy build, whereas another can focus on a chain-lighting-style ranged attack. Each run begins with the game randomly giving certain weapons a level-up at the start.

This is one way Lone Ruin encourages subsequent playthroughs. You’re encouraged from the start to experiment with new builds. Sadly, the combat doesn’t do enough beyond that. Certain weapons feel more powerful than others. Some of it comes down to personal playstyle, while it also feels like other spells are more powerful. 

One example is a flame-breath-style attack. Visually, it looks impressive and powerful. More often than not, however, enemies tend to shrug it off to the point where it’s more effective to use other spells in my arsenal. This frustrating experience kills interest in continuing playthroughs. Add in the fact that, on the surface, there’s no reason to keep playing other than getting a better score, and the result is a disappointing experience. 

Additional content can go a long way to keep my interest, but sadly, there’s nothing really there. I can play through the “main campaign” or try my luck in survival mode. That’s it. If you’re looking for more meat on the bone, you will be disappointed. 

Style and Flair Ooze off the Screen

If there’s one thing Lone Ruin does have going for it, it’s the visual aesthetic. If you’re a fan of synthwave, this is the game for you. The soundtrack does an excellent job of getting your adrenaline running. In addition, it matches the game’s difficulty well, egging you on to press further when you want to quit.

What puts things over the top is the confidence of the player’s character. There’s a sense of style that you can constantly feel. Between the way they effortlessly move across the stage to the immaculate vibes as they point in the direction of the spells being cast. I may be gushing too much on what seems like a random part of the game, but it resonated during my experience with Lone Ruin. 

With everything else feeling shallow and incomplete, this is the one aspect of the game that the developers nailed. It gives me the confidence to keep going, even when the game’s difficulty fights back. Trust me; it will fight back. Lone Ruin is not a forgiving game. 

Style and Flair Ooze Off The Screen
Photo Credit:
Super Rare Originals

Difficulty and roguelikes go hand-in-hand, like peas and carrots. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the game is challenging. Sadly, Lone Ruin toes the line between challenge and unfair. For every step forward of progress made, it often feels like two steps back. 

Lone Ruin absolutely leans into the challenge, too. Other roguelikes can sometimes balance accessibility with difficulty. That’s not the case here. Lone Ruin will be the game for you if you’re into pushing gameplay. If that’s not your cup of tea, it’s just another thing to add to the list of disappointments. Could some of this be because I stink at the game? It’s a definite possibility, but it’s still worth mentioning. 

Your Enjoyment of Lone Ruin Depends on What You Want Out of It

Lone Ruin has many good ideas, but they’re not always guaranteed to land. I can’t help but feel that parts of the game are flat-out missing. We see glimpses of a story, but it’s never expanded upon. Despite the neat synth art style, there’s a distinct lack of variety in environments and enemies. 

Furthermore, you can see the credits roll in under 30 minutes if you push yourself. While that’s a part of the roguelike genre, nothing is waiting for you after that. Of course, you can play the game again and attempt to do better, but that’s not the greatest motivation in the world. 

This feels like an Early Access game; I even looked on its Steam page to see if this was Early Access or a full release. Sadly, it’s the latter. Lone Ruin could have been a great way to kick off 2023. Instead, we’re left wondering if something went wrong during development. The premise is solid, and the execution of the gameplay is excellent. After that, however, there’s just nothing there. It’s like you ordered a three-course meal at a restaurant. The appetizer and dessert are five stars, but the entree never appeared. 

The publisher provided a review code for this game. 


Lone Ruin Review - Rogue Synth
Lone Ruin Review – Rogue Synth
Lone Ruin could have been a great roguelike but comes up short due to a severe lack of content. The soundtrack is killer, and the twin-stick shooting is solid, but it can't overcome its many flaws. This is a game that feels like it should be in Early Access.
Great visual style and plenty personality
Fantastic soundtrack
There is a severe lack of content
Game feels incomplete
Brutal difficulty


Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

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