RUINED KING: A LEAGUE OF LEGENDS STORY | The LoL spin-off is the best JRPG in a long time (Analysis)

 Oops! That came as a surprise. The League of Legends spin-off Ruined King was released without warning last week. This is called "shadowdrop" in industry jargon when a game like Marshmallow-Man is just there without a previous release date. And not only that: Riot Games seems to want to use the hype surrounding the highly acclaimed LoL series Arcane on Netflix and, in addition to Ruined King, also threw the rhythm game Hextech Mayhem afterwards and announced the cute action adventure Song of Nunu and 2D -Action-Schnetzler Conv / rgence is offering two more offshoots in the LoL universe.

However, Ruined King did not come out of nowhere, as it may seem to many. The League of Legends spin-off was announced back in 2019 and was first shown over a year ago at the Game Awards . Originally it was supposed to appear in the spring, but there has been a radio silence in the meantime. The fact that the Holterdipolter was released has to do with the huge success of the Netflix series Arcane, the second season of which has now also been confirmed.

The king's new clothes

What many probably don't know: Ruined King is basically a well-known game in a new guise. Developer studio Airship Syndicate was responsible for the role-playing game, which is best known for Darksiders Genesis , but before that they had already made Battle Chasers: Nightwar, which now provides the blueprint for Ruined King. And that's good!


I'll say it bluntly: Battle Chasers is one of my favorite insider tips of the last few years, which unfortunately received far too little attention. "The best JRPG of today does not come from Japan", was the headline of a major US game magazine and hit the nail on the head in my eyes: hardly any other role-playing game of this kind has such a multi-layered and well thought-out round-robin combat system into such an addictive undertow of playful progress and rewards and also inspires with an outrageously cool comic style that was personally created by Darksiders creator Joe Mardureira.

Ruined King is basically Battle Chasers 2. In its look, in its feel, in its mechanics anyway, yes, even numerous graphics, sound effects and enemy types were taken almost 1: 1 from the "predecessor". But I don't chalk him up - on the contrary! My hope is that by relocating this fantastic game to the League of Legends universe, it will finally get the attention and appreciation that it deserved at the first attempt.

But Ruined King is much more than just the same game with a new coat of paint, but in a sense a sequel, as you would ideally like it to be: It builds on the strengths of the predecessor and takes its flaws to the chest. The battle system, which was already famous in the original, is now a touch more complex and sophisticated, and the half-baked random dungeons give way to a real game world that lures with its story and wants to be explored instead of just shooing you from level to level. The unbalanced balancing, which required regular grinds in Battle Chasers, is also thoroughly thought out in Ruined King. And once again the result is: currently the best JRPG. Even if, strictly speaking, it comes from Texas.

Champions League

The story of Ruined King focuses on five champions from the main League of Legends game: the octopus priestess Illaoi, the Nordic barbarian Braum, the pirate queen Miss Fortune, the honorable swordsman Yasuo, the seedy rascal Pyke and the chimeric vixen Ahri, whose ways fatefully cross each other and gradually weld them together as unequal companions for a sworn party in the classic role-playing tradition.


A black mist haunts the port city of Bilgewasser and brings death and ruin. Its cause seems to be related to the millennia-old curse of a lost king who gradually spreads over the world from the legendary shadow islands. A power-hungry magician and a pirate believed dead obviously want to use his power to get revenge and ... world domination and that sort of thing.

Anyone who first came into contact with the LoL universe through the Netflix series Arcane and is now hoping for similarly multifaceted characters and epic entanglements from the story in Ruined King should not expect too much. The story of the tactical role-playing game fully fulfills its entertaining purpose of pulling the player through the adventure on the pleasant hook, but it by no means provides the reason for wanting to play it.

Diablo meets Final Fantasy

If you don't know the quasi-predecessor Battle Chasers: Nightwar, you should imagine Ruined King as a kind of Diablo, but with a round-robin combat system. You move in iso perspective and real time over the nicely designed game world in cartoon optics. If there is an encounter with enemies, the game resolves the conflict in a round-robin match, in which the opponents face each other and alternately play out their attacks, spells and special abilities - basically similar to the old Final Fantasy parts. Or more or less any other JRPG.

Ruined King is set mainly in two regions of Runeterra: on the one hand Bilgewasser, a bustling port city full of daring sailors and pirates, and on the Shadow Isles, a cursed place that fell victim to the black mist long ago and is now haunted by monsters and ghosts . Around 40 hours of gaming time come together, which is astonishingly high for such a relatively small game production, which costs only $30 and is still crammed to the top with everything that makes the genre so addicting: a cleverly thought-out crafting of weapons and equipment that motivates you to loot hidden treasure chests and explore detours and dead ends in the dungeons, bounty missions that let you hunt down optional bosses, yes,

Small puzzles in the style of Zelda temples regularly loosen up the combat-oriented gameplay, and the side missions, which are distributed like leaflets to willing adventurers at every corner, reveal an impressive range of simple, but narrative downright mischievous fetch quests to whole Mini-adventures that lead to unique regions and often go deeper into the characters' background stories.


The game's flagship is clearly its combat system. That was already the distinguishing feature of Battle Chasers and distinguishes Ruined King in particular. It has not been a long time, perhaps never before, that I have seen such a well thought-out, multi-layered and mature specimen of its kind. While it is part of the typical appearance of many JRPGs that at some point you always stick to the same optimal approach and ignore or ignore many elements that the game offers you because they turn out to be superfluous or do not really work with the harmonize with others, not all gears in the game mechanics always want to fit into each other, everything in Ruined King looks like a piece.

The developers of Airship Syndicate have masterly understood that depth and complexity are not achieved by overwhelming the player with functions, but on the contrary limiting the possibilities to a healthy level, but fine-tuning them. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, the battle system of Ruined King turns out to be astonishingly complex and diverse, without being overwhelming, and still opens up a lot more playful possibilities than Battle Chasers already demonstrated.

Its sophistication arises from the fact that a number of factors have to be taken into account in each individual move and completely different actions must be weighed against each other, all of which have their advantages, but also disadvantages. It starts with the opening move of every fight that imposes a quandary decision: Instead of simply fighting with the strongest available special attack, it usually makes more sense to first bake smaller rolls and, basically, a weak one at first to carry out a seemingly useless attack. Because, in contrast to the more powerful spells, which hit it hard, but draw precious mana from the reserves that you will lack afterwards, the weaker attacks charge your mana, which is then available for later promotions almost free of charge. An optimal combat strategy accordingly plans constantly changing phases of recovery and devastation, but must neither neglect the defense nor ignore impending attacks by the opponents.


None of the different skills in combat is superior to the other - there is a suitable situation or tactic for each. One action does less damage but inflicts bleeding or poison. The cyclone is weak, but hits all opponents at the same time. The fireball is largely useless against scaly lizards and knight armor, but sets tree creatures and shaggy creatures on fire. The barrage from the pistols rips through the barrel, but hits its targets only in random order. And the knife attack only causes small flesh wounds - unless you have made yourself invisible beforehand and thereby surprise unsuspecting opponents. Then she even knocks bosses out of the mountain with one blow. None of this should seem particularly new or surprisingly different to roleplayers.

Everything that was described up to then was taken over by Ruined King almost identically from Battle Chasers. What is new is that you also have to increasingly include the timing for each individual action in your tactical considerations. For this, the developers were inspired by the principle of the "lanes" from League of Legends. The individual units are not just all stubbornly involved in the fight one after the other - instead, each move needs a certain amount of time to be executed, in which, of course, a lot can happen in the meantime. Weak attacks are carried out immediately - but the more powerful an action, the longer it takes to take effect. You can even determine for each individual ability whether you want to perform it in a weak, but fast or a strong, but slow variant, which can have a significant impact on the fighting. Casting a healing spell in its most powerful execution may seem seductive, but it is of little use if the group members are already dead by the time it is performed. If you want to be particularly tricky, you also try to hit certain time windows on the lanes, quasi the timeline of the course of the fight, in order to grab additional buffs or avoid debuffs.

Sounds complicated? Actually it isn't at all, just forget everything I said again. It is only important to know that the fun of the combat system arises from the fact that numerous tactical possibilities always have to be weighed against each other and adapted to the current situation - and not, as in many other games, pure arbitrariness leads to success. In every little bit of Ruined King there is a supposed little thing that has a big impact on tactics and procedures - for example in the composition of the group of six different champions. It is fun to put together your group of 3 from new combinations of damage dealer, tank and healer and constantly develop different approaches for the different combat situations.


In order for all the different game mechanics to interlock in a meaningful way, the level of difficulty must of course balance exactly on the fine line between demanding but not too difficult, but with this trick Ruined King sometimes wavers. Those who deal extensively with the numerous side quests and skillfully level their characters are sometimes so overpowering that even opponents can be defeated that are not actually intended for this by the game. For players familiar with the genre, the higher level of difficulty is recommended from the start. Since there are a total of four of them, which can also be changed at any time, every type of player from the broad target group of the game will find the one that suits them, whether JRPG veteran or LoL renegade without previous role-playing knowledge.

Loading ...

Naturally, a game for a modest $30 has to be forgiven for a number of production-related trifles such as the JRPG-typical bizarre fact that some dialogues were set to music in a quite arbitrary pattern, while others are only faded in as text. After all, the voice output is completely in German, which is by no means a matter of course for such a small game. In view of the price, League of Legends players and especially Arcane fans who became aware of the fantasy universe via the Netflix series should be aware that they are strict with Ruined King despite the high-profile brand in the name taken a budget game in upscale indie format and not a LoL role-playing epic from the blockbuster dimensions of The Witcher or Dragon Age.

In the current version, there are still a number of bugs, which fortunately only disturb the course of the game, such as buttons that disappear from time to time in the interface or treasure chests that are not checked on the overview map, although they have already been looted. You should also plan a crash about every five hours (PS4 / 5 version) when creating your savegames. If you want to see it positively: Compared to the almost unplayable state in which Battle Chasers once appeared, Ruined King can already be rated as a huge step forward.

The very frequent and unnecessarily long loading times are much more annoying - especially on PS5 and Xbox Series X | S, on which they should actually no longer be available. However, the next-gen consoles are currently still running the unchanged versions for PS4 and Xbox One that have not yet been optimized for the new hardware. Updates specially tailored to the new generation are currently still in development and will hopefully improve performance significantly in the foreseeable future. It is commendable that they are made available free of charge to buyers of the last-gen versions.


The best round-robin RPG right now

The quasi-predecessor Battle Chasers: Nightwar is one of my all-time favorite insider tips of the last few years. I do not hold against them that the developer Airship Syndicate used this largely as a blueprint for their new game, on the contrary, I hope that, in League of Legends guise, he will finally get the attention and appreciation that he deserves was denied under the radar at that time.

Especially since Ruined King has all the characteristics of a successor in the best sense of the word: It builds on the strengths of its predecessor and takes on its criticisms. The lovingly designed Iso game world, the numerous main and side quests and the irresistible pull of the loot and level spiral, rotating like a charm, make the astonishingly extensive 40 hours of playtime pure role-playing fun - and all for just $30!

The game's flagship is clearly its combat system. It has not been a long time - maybe never - have I seen such a well-thought-out, multi-layered and mature specimen of its kind, in which a wide variety of factors have to be weighed against each other in every move and all gears in the complex gearing of the game mechanics fit together seamlessly at all times. The developers have masterly understood that playful depth is not achieved by showering the player with an exaggerated number of functions, but on the contrary by limiting the possibilities to a healthy level, but fine-tuning them. You absolutely do not need to be a LoL player for this.

A game production that is still relatively small despite a large brand has to be forgiven for a few small things, such as the cautious presentation, the not always optimally balanced game balance, as well as a number of small, but not annoying bugs, which will hopefully be fixed as soon as the very one Frequent and especially unnecessarily long loading times on the SSDs of the next-gen consoles. A (free) upgrade for PS5 and XSX is in progress.


  • All-round successful ISO role-playing game with tons of main and side quests
  • perfectly coordinated loot and level spiral
  • excellent well thought-out and multi-layered round combat system
  • pretty comic style
  • 30 to 40 hours of playtime
  • only $29.99


  • frequent and unnecessarily long loading times
  • (still) several small bugs and crashes (especially console)
  • not all dialogues set to music

Post a Comment