- Experience a full-blooded League of Legends spin-off
- Control a party of Champions to save the city of Bilgewater
- Use powerful Lane abilities to turn the tide of battle
You’ve got to hand it to Riot here. Moving into other mediums and genres to expand the League of Legends universe could so easily have been something half-baked and rushed. Such is the cache of their seminal MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) that pretty much anything with the League of Legends brand slapped on it is probably going to sell.
So the fact that what they’re achieving this year is such high-caliber content is worthy of the grandest praise. Netflix’s Arcane is a fantastic creation, proving that not only does the universe have legs beyond the game, but that it doesn’t rely on prior knowledge to enjoy it. That in itself is probably its greatest achievement.
Fortune favours the bold
Which brings us neatly to Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, a turn-based RPG that takes familiar characters into a brand new adventure. Developed by Airship Syndicate (the geniuses behind the superb Battle Chasers: Night War), it sees a handful of League Champions band together to overthrow an evil pirate intent on terrorizing the city of Bilgewater.
Primarily, you take control of Miss Fortune, newly-lauded pirate Queen of Bilgewater. Haunted quite literally by the ghosts of her past, Miss Fortune watches her recently-seized city descend into wrack and ruin thanks to the mysterious Black Mist.
This ephemeral fog appears now and then to disgorge evil spirits that can do very real damage to the living. And when an evil brute with a score to settle finds a way to control it, Miss Fortune must band together with five other warriors and travel to the Shadow Isles in search of a solution.
In a league of its own
The mix of characters is spot on. While Miss Fortune herself is a quintessential self-serving pirate with a nagging conscience, her companions provide a deal of variety and diversity. For example, Illaoi is a Bruhu mystical leader who fights like a lion and always maintains a stoic facade. On the other hand, strongman Braum uses a huge shield like a battering ram and cracks constant jokes.
Other characters such as Ahri and Yasuo also join the party, and each brings something different to the table. And not just in terms of their abilities and combat styles (which we’ll get to), but in terms of their personalities, too.
Each one has their own motivation for being along for the ride, and as you converse with them or trigger a dialogue just by wandering around the environments, you see that the interplay between them is as deep and fleshed out as the combat system.
Stay in your lane
Unsurprisingly, the combat itself borrows a few systems from Battle Chasers. For example, it’s a turn-based RPG, and actions are decided by an initiative bar. Each character is placed on the bar according to their Haste stat and will perform actions as they move along it.
You have Instant abilities, such as a standard attack, a defense buff, or taunt and healing depending on which character you’re fielding. These Instant abilities generate Overcharge (another system borrowed from Night War) which is always depleted before your character’s mana. Essentially this means that if you don’t want to be using up precious mana potions, you’ll need to use standard abilities to generate Overcharge instead.
Then there are Lane abilities, which consume mana or Overcharge to activate. Lane abilities are much more powerful, often allowing you to deal huge damage to one foe or distribute damage across the enemy line-up. Once you select a Lane ability, you can assign it to a specific lane on the initiative bar. Power enhances the potency of the skill but moves it further along the action bar, whereas the Speed Lane activates the skill sooner but with less voracity. Or you can leave the skill where it is in the Balance Lane.
Assemble your champions
It’s an interesting system and one that forces you to think about what you’re doing each time. Do you delay an attack to increase its power knowing it will then finish off a dangerous foe in the next attack? Do you risk skipping a chance to heal to generate enough Overcharge for a more powerful offensive ability?
Consider that there are also Hazard Zones on the initiative bar that includes both buffs and debuffs for any character whose attack pops while inside the Zone. These affect both sides and can include attack and defense boosts, or deadly poison clouds that drain health each time. Again, this is a very tactical addition to combat which forces you to think about your next move.
Outside of combat in Ruined King: A League of Legends Story you’ll be exploring environments looking for loot and trouble. Enemies will approach you (sometimes without warning), at which point you can get a quick initiative attack in by hitting the attack button. If you do, you’ll start the fight with a slight advantage such as stunned or weakened enemies, or an earlier spot on the initiative bar.
Loot such as gear, accessories, and gold is everywhere, in boxes and vases and barrels. You can swap out your party’s weapons and armor (the latter don’t change visually unless you unlock skins), and upgrade skills and abilities by earning XP. Oh, you can also fish, if you want to, and delve into dungeons or indulge in side quests
Completion & Achievements
Ruined King is around 20 hours long if you go for the majority of side quests. It’s not particularly long for its genre, but what’s here is just fantastic. The pacing and storytelling are on point, and the difficulty is steep but manageable.
Given that this is also available for consoles, there is a full suite of achievements to unlock. All can be done in a single playthrough but will require some effort and exploration.
Final thoughts on Ruined King: A League of Legends Story
- Fantastic battle system
- The art style is gorgeous
- Doesn’t require prior knowledge of LoL
- Difficulty spikes
- Very occasional audio glitches
Final Score: 4.5/5
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ruined King is that it works so well as a stand-alone adventure. If you didn’t know it was based in Runeterra, it wouldn’t affect the story one jot. The character motivations and plot are such that they exist both separate from and beyond the primary franchise.
It also looks superb, with beautifully drawn character models and smooth, intricate battle animations. The environments are top-notch, filled with detail, and stuffed full of things to find. The only concession to the design was the occasional audio bug that caused battle sound effects to not work, which is hardly game-breaking.
Airship Syndicate is tremendously good at what they do, and they’ve taken all their experience from Battle Chasers: Night War and applied it here. Even without a deep knowledge of or investment in League of Legends, any RPG fan will get a kick out of Ruined King.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is available on PC via Steam or the Epic Store, as well as PS4, PS5, the Xbox family of consoles, and Nintendo Switch.
*Disclaimer: Review access provided by the publisher.