With upcoming games like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night we are seeing a resurgence in modern gaming of the 2D sidescroller that harkens back to old school video games like Metroid and Castlevania. Big maps, brutal combat and challenging bosses are hallmarks of the genre with games like Salt and Sanctuary offering their own fresh spins on the format. Runic: Legacy of Sin, builds on the legacy of that genre and infuses its own soul into it by bringing frenetic combo focused combat and gameplay along with RPG elements. The indie game is being developed by one man, Toronto based Aleks Kuzmanovic who is also presently working on another 2D indie game called Unworthy.
Developed by: Aleks Kuzmanovic
Published by: Aleks Kuzmanovic
Release date: Unannounced, 2017/2018
Age rating: Pending
Platforms: PS4, PC
Runic Legacy of Sin Features
- Action-packed Metroidvania that combines old school conventions with modern day speed.
- Adaptation of RPG elements that gives the game an added layer of depth.
- Unique combo-centric combat system that tasks the players with mastering their weapons.
Story & Setting
In Runic: Legacy of Sin you are the last remaining Judicator, a member of an ancient order that is charged with the task of cleansing the world of evil. Unfortunately your former co-workers were not great at their jobs and the world is in a terrible state of decay, marred by the mistakes of humanity’s past. What is left of the world are monsters and beasts from the depths of nightmares.
As the last Judicator you will set out to fix what is wrong, searching for the answers to what happened in this world as you navigate your way through your different choices. The world is a dungeon/medieval blend that conjures up the crumbling worlds of Dark Souls, with Lovecraftian and Castlevania influences also in the mix.
The game’s opening quote states that, “The sins of today shall serve as the foundation upon which the salvation of our future shall be built..” which sets up the setting nicely, but beyond that, there isn’t an incredibly large amount of time spent on story exposition. Much of what is there is obscured, and it seems the players will have to make connections based on clues from the environment, names of locations and items.
The game’s focus is its combat system which is designed to by dynamic and interactive, giving it a depth not often seen in indie or 2D games, with the exception of indie gems like Salt and Sanctuary. The Runic combat system is designed to be dynamic and interactive. Sometimes it’s not enough to just run in swinging and some enemies are best brought down using a diverse set of approaches.
When you do decide to engage the combat is lightening fast with a varied moveset depending on the weapon you’re using. There are jabs, slashes and uppercuts and they all chain together in combos, with skill flourishes also mixed in. You can dash, jump and trigger special attacks, all in the 2D realm. Once you put it all together you can chain together a flurry of high speed moves that cut into enemies and dispatch them with flourish. The dash in particular is an extremely useful maneuver and often forms the foundation of a combo sequence.
The location traversal and platforming all serve the action focus of Runic. You can leap and grab onto walls and segue these moves into attacks. There are environmental hazards and traps to negotiate that are common conventions in 2D games, with some playing off of the game’s dynamic combat such as the opportunity to deflect projectiles like fireballs. Others like swinging axes can be leaped over or crouched under for safety. In all the multitude of different traps are all timing challenges that will test your fast twitch thumb action.
As you explore you’ll find checkpoints where you can preserve your progress and replenish your health and special meters. The checkpoints are well spaced out and make progressing to the next stone a rewarding experience, and you will often limp in with a sliver of health left.
The enemies are monster fodder, who hit hard and have their own dynamic moveset. They’re also quicker than the 2D realmed typically offers. In fact, everything in the game seems just a tick faster than expected. Dodging their attacks all require a great blend of timing and speed. Executing a timely dash and using your special attacks can all turn the situation from grim to an advantage.
Runic’s bosses tease a singular challenge that puts all of the aforementioned speed and timing elements together. They throw the kitchen sink at the player, with patterned moves and special attacks and abilities that are a challenge to evade or deflect.
Runic features a delightful Castlevania meets Dark Souls aesthetic with a subtle attention to details that is appreciated. It’s hard to believe this is a game developed by a single person, but as we see with Ska Studios, dedicate 1 or 2 person dev teams can put in quite the impressive effort by sticking to what they do well. The music, audio and sound engineering all fit the environments and are effective aural prompts.
Runic Legacy of Sin is an entertaining take on the 2D Metroidvania game, that is going to feel like a natural fit for combo and action combat enthusiasts. The combat movesets mixed with the game’s dash and jump mechanics all give the players an engaging toolset to work with when taking on enemies. Speed and fluidity are the core tenets of the game and the mechanics support that. This is a game where dying isn’t a discouragement and instead just gives the player motivation to jump back into the fray.