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Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is newcomer-friendly with great combat

By Tim Augustin - 16 Dec 2021

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is newcomer-friendly with great combat

Image: Riot Games

League of Legends is having a pretty good year. 

I’ve been looking forward to Ruined King: A League of Legends Story since it was revealed, if only to find a way into Riot’s ever-expanding universe of Champions without having to touch the multiplayer game at its center. Funnily enough, this came in the form of a TV show instead: Netflix’s Arcane. Ruined King’s story did not suck me in as much as Arcane did, but it does work as a newcomer-friendly gateway to the League of Legends universe that will surely please fans too. 

Riot is doing great things with the League of Legends franchise by allowing all sorts of audiences to engage with it - whether they be Netflix binge-watchers, RPG addicts or fans of rhythm games. I’m no League fan, but Ruined King impressed me with its diverse cast of characters, formidable villain and interesting turn-based combat. Maybe it'll impress you too.

 

Magical spooky pirates

Image: Riot Games

Ruined King takes players to the rundown town of Bilgewater, a coven of pirates and criminals ruled over by Sarah Fortune. Fortune wrested control of the town from Gangplank, the man who killed her own mother when she was younger. Unfortunately, her reign is interrupted rather violently when a force known as the Black Mist swoops into town and creates undead nightmares. Not only does Fortune have to deal with the deaths of her crew - but the zombies that have risen up to take their place too. As far as new jobs go, hers isn’t off to a great start. 

Miss Fortune acts as one of the game’s many protagonists, and the game does a decent job of introducing you to its diverse cast in its early hours. All of them come from different walks of life, joining your party with varying motivations and ability kits. Watching characters like Miss Fortune and K/DA’s Ahri interact is a treat even for a League newbie like me, and I never felt like I had a hard time latching onto these characters or figuring out what was going on in the story - which is impressive considering the whole game is built on the bones of a fleshed out universe. 

Image: Riot Games

Essentially: don’t be afraid to pick up Ruined King if you’re not familiar with League of Legends lore. If you’re looking for more story content in this universe after binging Arcane, this is a rational next step. As far as RPG stories go, you won’t hear me scream from the rooftops that Ruined King is the most original and compelling story I’ve played through even in 2021 alone, but its characters are appealing enough to keep you going for their sake. 

I will say that watching this team come together didn’t feel as satisfying as I thought it might be. If they look like an awkward mish-mash of characters who seem out of step with one another, that’s because they are. The story’s slow-moving early hours push the team together, rather than allow them to enter each other’s company organically. Recent RPGs like Yakuza: Like A Dragon did a far better job of rounding up a party of misfits who shared palpable chemistry, but these characters don’t come off as fleshed-out or captivating on their own - let alone together. 

 

Wait your turn

Image: Riot Games

Ruined King is your standard turn-based RPG - but the fact that it adopts characters from another game with an established combat system necessitates a twist. League veterans will instantly notice that these Champions’ abilities have been translated to turn-based combat attacks in interesting ways. Braum acts like the tank of the party for example, while Ahri can dish out damage while healing up her companions. Each member of your party plays a specific combat role, but only three can fight together at a given time. That means it’s important to arrange your party effectively against incoming enemies. If they’re big damage dealers, you might want to keep a tanky character like Braum in your party - and maybe a healer too. 

However, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of Ruined King’s combat system. There is so much more going on in every battle you take part in, such as the fact that everyone in combat gets thrown onto a timeline and arranged according to their combat speed. Your party’s moves cost mana and can take time to cast, the latter of which can push a character further down the timeline and thus, leave them vulnerable to attacks. 

Image: Riot Games

Each ability your party uses can also be cast in three ‘Lanes’: Speed, Power and the default Lane, Balance. Speed allows you to cast abilities quicker but renders them less powerful. Power is the opposite, increasing cast time for higher damage. The game plays with this system in interesting ways that get far more complex as you progress through the story. Sometimes, you’ll have to choose specific Lanes to counter enemy weaknesses or strengths. Other times, picking a Lane can change the way your party’s abilities behave. You also have to keep in mind that these Lane abilities will cost a ton of Mana in the long run, so choosing your moment is important. 

Ruined King’s combat is by far the most ingenious aspect of the game. There are lots of moving parts in every single combat encounter, and that can get more complicated in dungeons or during bossfights where special care must be taken to avoid a loss. It’s an interesting twist on the turn-based combat system that won’t alienate fans on the genre, but my only complaint is that the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining its intricacies right off the bat. Combat can be a slow and confusing thing in Ruined King’s early hours, bogged down by confusing tutorials that make encounters more frustrating than fun. 

 

Verdict

Image: Riot Games

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is the perfect entry point into this universe for RPG lovers, and really anyone who’s interested in the universe Riot has built over the last few years of games, TV shows and cinematics. It boasts a fresh twist on turn-based combat that takes pointers from the main game without feeling derivative, plus a story filled with interesting personalities that doesn’t outstay its welcome. These characters won’t stay burned in your mind for weeks after playing, nor will the story blow you away - but it’s a fun and entertaining way to spend your weekends on the Switch. 

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8.0
  • Playability 8
  • Graphics 7
  • Sound 6.5
  • Addictiveness 7.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Interesting characters
Newcomer-friendly
More lore for fans on Vigo and League's world
The Bad
Confusing introduction to combat
Slow start
Lots of backtracking
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