Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is for both LoL and RPG fans

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Ruined King: A League of Legends Story was released to the surprise of many on 17 November, after almost a year of silence from publisher Riot Forge since the game was first announced on December 2020.

Developed by Airship Syndicate, the creators of Battle Chasers: Nightwar and Darksiders Genesis, Ruined King is a single-player narrative-driven, turn-based role-playing game (RPG).

The game gives players the chance to control a group of champions from the League of Legends (LoL) universe, explore the bustling city of Bilgewater and the mysterious Shadow Isles, and battle enemies through an innovative lane system.

While Ruined King didn't receive much fanfare prior to its release, there's a lot to be excited about now that it's finally out. Read on for our review of this fresh take on the ever-expanding LoL universe:

Even if you’re not familiar with LoL, this game has a lot to offer.

The game features stunning graphic-novel style cinematics by the legendary comic book artist Joe Madureira, as well as a surprisingly colorful environment to explore.

It also has relatively simple gameplay that relies on tactics, an entertaining cast of characters, as well as a light, enjoyable plot that you can easily follow.

But if you’re a LoL fan, then this game is a must-play. The game intricately expands on existing LoL lore and is an excellent way for the game's universe to wrap up its showing this year, notably redeeming LoL’s underwhelming Sentinels of Light event.

I tried playing the game this week, so I’ll be sharing more about our experience with the game, the features that I liked, and the things that I think can be improved on in the future.

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story will have you take command of a motley crew of League of Legends champions. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story will have you take command of a motley crew of League of Legends champions. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)

Plot and Characters

You don't need to be an expert on LoL's lore to follow the plot.

Through a blend of comic-style cinematics, missions, events, and conversations by the fireside, the game does a superb job of conveying the storyline.

With that said, the tale is relatively straightforward. Don't anticipate multiple outcomes, though the plot is quite enjoyable, despite being linear.

The game starts in the port city of Bilgewater, where Miss Fortune has recently taken control of the town from Gangplank.

However, as the Black Mist arrives on the shores of Bilgewater, Miss Fortune has to seek the aid of Illaoi, the Kraken priestess of the Buhru tribe.

Other LoL champions eventually join the group to destroy the Shadow Isles' Black Mist, including Braum of the Freljord, Ahri, Yasuo from Ionia, and Pyke the Bloodharbor Ripper.

Each party member joins for a reason, so their side plots can also be enjoyed alongside the main story.

Each character also has a more fleshed out personality compared to what is depicted in LoL, and although many of them may match certain RPG tropes, this doesn’t take away what each can bring to the story’s dynamic.

Gameplay and Mechanics

Ruined King didn’t exactly attempt to reinvent the wheel.

Instead, it relies on classic turned-based RPG elements during combat, with only a few tweaks. The style is notably reminiscent of Airship Syndicate’s Battle Chasers: Nightwar, down to the aesthetic during combat.

Each character has different abilities, and using instant skills stacks “overcharge” — temporary mana that is available throughout the fight.

But what really sets Ruined King apart is its lane system with three choices: the Speed Lane, the Balance Lane, and the Power Lane.

Combat in Ruined King: A League of Legends Story will take place across three lanes, just like in the League of Legends MOBA. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)
Combat in Ruined King: A League of Legends Story will take place across three lanes, just like in the League of Legends MOBA. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)

Abilities are charged faster in the Speed Lane, though champions here are less effective at healing allies or damaging enemies, the Balance Lane is the midpoint in terms of cast time and damage/heal values, while the Power Lane takes the longest but has the highest damage/heal values.

There’s also the addition of ultimate abilities, which charge longer and can only be used by one party member at a time. The animation of the Ultimates is fantastic, but since there is no way to skip it, it does eventually become tedious.

I liked Yasuo's Ultimate animation at first, but eventually got sick of it during his first boss battle after repeating it countless times. Hopefully, future updates will provide the option to skip the animation.

On top of that, depending on where their character is in the battle timeline, some boons and curses might fall on both players and foes. With all of these aspects, you can be clever about playing each move to assure success rather than depending just on RNG.

Upgrades and Customisation

Like many RPGs these days, Ruined King also offers different ways to upgrade and customise the build of your party and characters.

Equipment may be updated, and enchantments can be applied to improve their effectiveness. Players may also acquire Rune Shards throughout the game, which they can use to power up their characters by selecting which rune slots they want to employ.

When a character levels up, they get an ability point, which can be used to improve their talents. Instead of a straightforward skill tree in which you must assign points for the characters to earn the talent, the ability points are used to develop each skill, with at least two pathways available.

Exploration, Mini Games, Rest Points

Exploration in Ruined King: A League of Legends Story rarely gets tedious, as the game features some stunning visuals that'll keep you glued to the screen. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)
Exploration in Ruined King: A League of Legends Story rarely gets tedious, as the game features some stunning visuals that'll keep you glued to the screen. (Screenshot courtesy of Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge)

Ruined King's world is stunning, and there are several locations waiting to be discovered.

You may scour through each area for loot, and there are also side quests that can assist your characters in leveling up in time for important events. There's even a bounty board and an NPC where you may buy rumours to help you get other side missions.

That said, because I like exploring an RPG's universe so much, I believe Ruined King could do better here.

Walking about the terrain may be sluggish and tiresome, particularly when doors are purposely locked so that you have no choice but to traverse around the map pointlessly.

It would also be nice if characters had the ability to at least jump or climb to find more secrets.

Ruined King also features a fishing mini-game. Players can find or buy fishing equipment, which they can use to make dishes that the party can eat at rest points.

Rest points are crucial to your party’s survival. Your crew may rest to heal and even choose to eat as dishes can provide you with buffs to aid you in the ensuing battles.

You can also opt to watch a conversation take place while resting. Conversations will show you more about each character’s quirks and backstory. I found myself laughing out loud while playing, especially when Braum adds comedic relief or when Yasuo would throw out a witty, sarcastic remark.

Overall, Ruined King is a light, turn-based RPG that anyone can enjoy, whether they be LoL fans or players new to the world of Runeterra. It has stunning comic-style cinematics, a beautiful story, and enjoyable gameplay.

But while playing the game and getting immersed in the story can be fun, Ruined King can still improve its pace by cutting down on the Ultimate animations and increasing the character's movement speed while exploring.

Otherwise, I truly enjoyed most aspects of the game, and I found it to be a pretty relaxing journey that still tosses enough challenges your way to keep things interesting.

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is out now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, and PC via platforms such as Steam, GOG.com, and the Epic Games Store at US$29.99.

All players who buy Ruined King: A League of Legends Story during the first 30 days of its release will get the Manamune Sword as an in-game weapon for Yasuo, regardless of whether they buy the Standard, Deluxe, or Collector's Edition.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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