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Video Game / Ruiner

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"In the year 2091 pervasive advancements in technology and computerization haven't changed human nature. Playing with people's lives has never been more fun."
The game's opening.

RUINER is a hardcore, top-down twin-stick shooter made by the Polish indie studio Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital, released on September 26 2017 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The year is 2091. Technology may have advanced, but the human soul has not changed — or if it has, it has been for the worse. In the city of Rengkok, a dirty, neon-lit Cyberpunk dystopia, where cybernetically-enhanced crime runs rampant and a gun (or even just a sturdy steel pipe) is the only thing keeping you alive, a huge, shiny building towers over the darkness of the maze-like streets below: the HQ of HEAVEN, an incredibly powerful corporation specialized in virtual reality, a nest of horrific secrets and shadowy corruption, a place where average people's lives are nothing more than amusing playthings.

In this grim setting, a mysterious, mask-donning sociopath is entangled in a shady plot concerning HEAVEN's Boss, the "Big Dog", and his kidnapped little brother, an unwanted "third child". Supported by an anonymous woman, claiming to be the best hacker in the world, and armed with LOADS of guns, he sets on discovering the truth... and beating to a pulp whoever stands in his way.


Later in November 20, 2017, Reikon made a free update named "Savage Update" which adds New Game+, 9 New Weapons, 7 New Outfits, Finishers and more. Another free update named "Annihilation Update" was released in February 21, 2018, which not only adds even more new weapons, outfits, and Finishers, the second update also adds online leaderboards and a new Arena Mode where players fight waves of enemies for as long as they can live.


Tropes represented in this game include:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Your character has a left artificial arm because his older brother needed a new fleshy one. Being a Third Child the protagonist was abandoned and the Boss decided to keep him for any organ transplants.
  • Animal Motifs: The obvious standout is dogs. The Boss you're sent to kill in the first mission is sometimes referred to as "Big Dog" or "The Big Dog," and Her continually refers to the protagonist as a puppy, even going so far as to occasionally dub him "Puppy" with a capital P. She even tells you to "go fetch" Wizard.
    • "GET THEM PUPPY" appears on the protagonist's mask in the announcement trailer, followed by a stylized dog excitedly wagging its tail at whoever "Puppy" is menacing.
    • Other characters, who should have no idea about Her's petnames, also regularly compare the player to a dog.
      Wizard: "You're just a dog on a leash, chasing his own tail."
      Jurek: "Sit, dog! Time to play dead!"
    • One sidequest has you chasing cats.
  • Artificial Limbs: Cybernetic prosthetics are a common sight in Rengkok, even on lowly thugs. The protagonist has an (allegedly outdated) artificial left arm that gets replaced with a newer model after the prologue.
  • Arc Words: Basically, anything that appears on the protagonist's mask is going to feel somewhat poignant, given the dark overtone most of the phrases have, the situations the protagonist experiences, and the frequency of the mask animations that contain those phrases.
    • Good boy!
    • KILL YOU
    • NO FILE
  • Awesomeness Meter: At the end of every fight, you get a letter grade depending on how you do, ranging from "S" as the highest and "E" for the lowest. Her will also react to your performance, being overjoyed if you do well and mocking and disappointed if you're mediocre.
  • BFS: The Vis Carver, HF Blade, and Fox Blade. All of them have increased range and damage, and in the case of the first two, outright turn enemies into gibs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Big Dog" is finally killed, meaning that HEAVEN will take heavy damage that it will unlikely recover from, which will allow many to enjoy some sort of freedom. On the other hand, the protagonist was the younger brother tricked by Her, and an Unwitting Pawn that ultimately has nowhere to go other than maybe the Creeps hideout. The latter view is reinforced in the ending cutscene, as it cuts with the protagonist driving away in a motorcycle right after Big Dog's death.
    • Of course, considering Her tells you to 'meet her where Heaven falls' so she can explain the situation in more detail, it's more likely he's heading there.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Don't expect clear-cut good guys in a gritty Cyberpunk setting, especially in Rengkok. The central antagonist is the morally-bankrupt Mega-Corp known as HEAVEN, whose leader is responsible for making Rengkok a Wretched Hive so they can make profit with their Virtual Reality products known as Virtuality, and the corporation isn't above using Human Resources to power their machines, such as the ANGEL units, machines containing trapped yet fully-aware humans enslaved by a malevolent super-computer called MOTHER. The only people who oppose HEAVEN are a bloodthirsty Sociopathic Hero and a mysterious woman called HER, who wants to free Rengkok's people from HEAVEN by any means, even if it includes blackmailing and killing hundreds of people. Then again, the people our protagonists kill had it coming anyways. To drive the point home, the gritty morality setting is reflected through the game's red, black, and gray color scheme.
  • Boring, but Practical: Downplayed on the "boring" part with the RUINER submachine-gun. It's not the flashiest gun in the game and it has a small magazine, but it also has good damage, good accuracy, a quick reload speed, and it's the only ranged weapon with infinite ammo, making this gun very lethal. Thanks to its versatile nature and the ability to be upgraded, you'll be using this gun through the entire game.
  • Brain–Computer Interface:
    • RUINER starts with a brain hack that sends you on to perform a corporate hit; the tutorial ends with Her hijacking it back.
    • Virtuality works like this. The hosts feel emotions and sensations, their brains feed the data back through the computer which simulates them for the user. HER mentions a hobby from the richer user is to experience death safely through Virtuality.
  • Challenging the Chief: After you fatally injure Nerve, he acknowledges your skill and essentially names you the new leader of The Creeps. The next level is filled with many non-hostile Creeps cheering you on as their new boss as you go to finish off Wizard.
  • Chain Lightning: The ZP-3R Arc Gun fires a beam of electricity that jumps onto multiple enemies at once, making it ideal for Crowd Control.
  • Cool Guns: A few recognizable here and there, given a Cyberpunk twist.
  • Covers Always Lie: Promotional art always depicts the protagonist wearing a white button-up shirt and blue jeans underneath his jacket. In all in-game depictions, he's wearing blue worker overalls.
  • Cybernetic Mythical Beast: Despite taking place in a dystopian Cyberpunk setting (or rather because of it), this game has two hostile cyborgs themed after creatures from Greek Mythology: the Heavy Cyborgs and the Harpies. The former are robot minotaurs armed with a pair of adamantium claws and a seething hatred for organic life, and the latter are skeletal cyborgs armed with various weapons, such as laser cannons or grenades, and they're happy to blast anything that moves. If you're not prepared, these guys will turn you into a burning mush of minced meat.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul:
    • Notably for the Cyberpunk genre, averted. The closest they come is in the Virtuality Farm, but the insanity of the hosts is probably more to do with the constant sensational feedback than the technology itself.
    • Big Dog is actually the least cybernetic person in the game; since he's been farming you for spare organic parts, you're the one with the robot bits and hackable brain.
  • Cyberpunk: A stand-out example, both in terms of aesthetic (cybered-up thugs in leather and denim enacting violence on each other in a neon-lit, rain-drenched industrial dystopia) and in terms of theme (advancements in technology have not reduced people's tendency to be horrible to each other, and if anything have made it worse).
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Rengkok is your typical cyberpunk dystopia, grimy, crowded, and with a perpetual drizzle slicking the pavement.
  • Emergency Weapon: A metal pipe for melee and the Ruiner gun for long-range combat. Both of them have infinite uses, though you do need to reload the Ruiner once the magazine is empty. You can upgrade the Ruiner through the Use of Weapons skill tree, while the pipe is replaced with Nerve's katana after you beat him.
  • Evolving Weapon: Upgrading the protagonist's default RUINER gun turns it from a small SMG to a large bulky rifle.
  • Expressive Mask: The protagonist's mask is also a full-face LCD display, which he uses to display his thoughts and feelings rather than saying them out loud.
    • Towards the end Her uses it to broad cast her face directly to the boss.
    • Notably averted with the boss. He wears the same exact mask as the protagonist but his doesn't change at all; it just shows the characters 弟弟, which can mean younger brother or just brother (probably the latter given the context).
  • The Faceless: The protagonist, whose face is constantly hidden behind a mask that projects digitally what he's thinking. Also counts for "Big Dog", the boss of HEAVEN, who wears an identical mask; they're linked Virtuality host masks, letting the boss see through the protagonist's eyes.
  • Far East: Rengkok mashes the perceived shady reputation of Bangkok, the urban density and night markets of Hong Kong, and tops it off with a Zaibatsu-esque corporation.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning:
    • Fire: The Hellfire, a flamethrower that burns enemies.
    • Ice: The Subzero, a laser gun that fires ice beams.
    • Lightning: The Arc Gun and the Electra. The former fires a stream of lightning and the latter fires balls of electricity.
  • Flash Step: The Dash ability allows you to move extremely quickly in short bursts. You're not the only one who can do this, though. By the time you reach Hanza Compound, even basic mooks can move as fast as you do.
  • Foreshadowing: The character on the Protagonist's back, 弟, means 'younger brother' in both Chinese and Japanese.
    • Basically everything the Hag says is a reference to the twist toward the end.
    • The protagonist's jumpsuit under his jacket is identical to the ones worn by the Virtuality hosts.
  • Freeze Ray: The Subzero is a laser gun that fires an ice-cold beam that freezes enemies.
  • I Gave My Word: The Creeps may be a gang of violent, psychopathic dregs, but when they make a deal with someone, they will follow through, even if it means throwing themselves into the meat grinder to protect an obnoxious hacker that they don't even like.
    Nerve: Down here, our word is bond.
  • Knuckle Cracking: A reply option is to have your protagonist do this to either intimidate or tell the boss to bring it.
  • Kubrick Stare: HER gives one whenever she hacks into someone's brain
  • Lightning Gun: The ZP-3R Arc Gun fires a continuous stream of lightning that hits multiple enemies at once. The Electra fires balls of lightning that get bigger and stronger the longer you hold the trigger.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In the end, turns out you never had a kidnapped younger brother, like Her made you believe... but nonetheless, you do have a brother: Big Dog, none other than HEAVEN's CEO. Yes, the same guy you were trying to kill in the prologue. And he's a pretty terrible one at that too, as he (by his own words) views you as nothing more than "spare parts," given that you're biologically compatible.
  • Mission Control: The prologue starts with Wizard hijacking your brain for a corporate hit, before switching over to Her once the main game starts.
  • Neon City: In Rengkok, glaring red neon lights seem to be one of the main sources of illumination.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game's bread and butter. You're just as durable as most of the enemies you fight, leaving you a lucky hit away from being a bloody smear on the ground.
  • No Name Given: Most of the main characters: the protagonist, his brother, the Boss of HEAVEN, and the hackers HER and Wizard. Though, considering the implication that she's actually an AI or something similar, HER could really be her name.
  • One Bad Mother: MOTHER is a sadistic supercomputer that powers Heaven's sprawling security network.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: The Heavy Cyborgs have mechanical bull-like heads, making them cybernetic Minotaurs.
  • People Puppets:
    • When Wizard hacks the protagonist at the start of the game and takes him over, it seems to be at least a certain degree of this coupled with other forms of coercion.
    • With the Ghost Break ability, you can do this to enemies too.
  • Population Control: Parents are restricted to two children. Unwanted "Third Children" are often abandoned, and make up several enemies you encounter, along with your younger brother. It is later revealed that -you- were the abandoned third child however.
  • Recurring Boss: The MOTHER and ANGEL units are fought repeatedly throughout the game; ditto with the Heavy Cyborgs, where two are fought in the final battle, and Trafficking uses a souped-up Heavy Cyborg body for his rematch.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: A masked, nameless, violent protagonist murders his way through large numbers of suit-wearing thugs with a variety of weapons, dying often but respawning quickly, at the behest of a remote operator who may not (or explicitly doesn't) have the protagonist's best interests at heart, in a top-down brawler published by Devolver Digital. There's a reason more than one source has described RUINER as "cyberpunk Hotline Miami."
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Game. Rengkok is a dark and shadowy urban hellhole lit primarily by glaring red neon and hazard lights, with the occasional lonely island of white, green, or blue. It's also filled with people who are on the darker side of morally ambiguous at best.
  • Scoring Points: Each encounter ends with a score rundown by your Mission Control, maxing at S+. Interestingly enough, dying has the least impact on your final score.
  • Sensory Abuse: The game's neon red color focus is a downplayed version. While there's no random flashing or otherwise seizure-inducing elements, the constant bright red elements can gradually become very hard to look at thanks to causing eye strain to build up, especially if one's display has the brightness or color vividness turned up.
  • Shout-Out: Overall, it's probably safe to say that Reikon Games are huge, huge nerds:
    • Experience points are dubbed "Karma" in game, just like in the Cyberpunk tabletop Shadowrun.
    • Among the various jacket pins of Her, one depicts the Brand of Sacrifice.
    • Another one of the pins has a pill on it that looks like the one on the back of Kaneda's Jacket.
    • Donvius' shirt is a clear reference to Brutal Doom.
    • The Predator rifle fires energized buzzsaws that bounce off walls, much like Unreal Tournament's Ripper.
    • HEAVEN's top ominous cyber-mooks are named "ANGELS", and their weak spot is a red, spherical core. Every Angel possesses a distinct personality and attack pattern (since they're merged with a human host). Ringing any bells?
    • On a broader scale, the game's visual style pays homage to many cyberpunk anime series. It's easy to be reminded of the likes of Ghost in the Shell, AKIRA or Appleseed.
    • If you speedrun the game and get 1 hour, you can unlock the McFly Jacket.
    • The recurring "KILL YOU" image that appears in the Protagonist's Helmet might be a reference to the first episode of Cyber City Oedo 808. Take a look for yourself.
  • Stealth Pun: The Dash ability is granted through an augmentation called "Celero" Rapid Movement Booster, or RMB. Guess which mouse button is used to activate it?
  • Take That!: In the Savage Update Trailer, for a split second there's a text that states "No Loot Boxes". It really doesn't take a genius to know what it's throwing shade at.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Every gun, except for your default pistol the Ruiner, has limited ammo. Picking up a weapon mid-combat will also trigger a brief Bullet Time effect, encouraging you to constantly scavenge for guns to survive.
  • Timed Mission: During the boss fight against HEAVEN's security chief Watayama, Wizard sets a timer for fifteen seconds; when it hits zero, the protagonist dies. Killing an enemy adds five seconds to the timer, and thankfully Watayama is kind enough to keep throwing mooks at the protagonist, allowing him to stay alive. Given how counter-intuitive this is to Wizard's stated intention of having the protagonist kill the Boss, it seems he does it solely For the Evulz.
    • In a callback to this scene, HER does the same thing in the arena fight before the protagonist kills the Boss for real.
  • Urban Segregation: Rengkok is separated into districts, and how nice of a district you're allowed to live in is entirely dependent on how much karma you have.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Averted. The SCR-1 Hellfire has a relatively fast ammo consumption rate and limited range, but it has wide spread, good ammo capacity, and massive damage-per-second to compensate, making it effective against large enemy crowds or in close-ranged combat.
  • The Voiceless: The protagonist never speaks, instead expressing himself through colorful signs and images appearing on his digital mask. Even in "dialogue sections", his responses are limited to gestures, such as "nod", "look away" or "shrug".
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The hacker Her, quite literally.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The XAAR is a portable laser cannon that cuts through enemies with a fiery laser beam. The MOTHER Unit fires a massive sweeping laser as her main attack, and this attack is shared by the Sick Sisters' upgraded MOTHER Unit.
  • Weird Currency: Karma, which acts as experience points for you, acts as currency for everyone else. It seems to be a sort of measurement of your personal life, similar to China's "Social Credit" system, and determines things like where you can live and what you can buy.
    • While regular currency apparently does exist, nobody really uses it anymore except the Iching Oracle.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Heavy Cyborgs have six razor-sharp blades on their hands (three on each hand), giving them a savage and animalistic appearance. The rebuilt Trafficking sports a pair too, since he's grafted on a Heavy Cyborg body.