Ronin

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Ronin Game Poster Image
Innovative but tough, bloody action game falls short.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Simple story of vengeance glamorizes vigilante justice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player's character doesn't talk but instead expresses long-gestating rage through bloody violence.

Ease of Play

Very challenging, with no option to select difficulty level.

Violence

Players stab, slice enemies, causing bright red blood to streak through the air in slow motion before staining the ground. The ninja also can kill enemies by lowering a noose strangling them. Players can opt to kill unarmed civilians, though they're penalized for it. Enemies fight back with pistols, machine guns, swords, mines. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ronin is a downloadable side-scrolling action and strategy game about a ninja on a mission of vengeance. Players control a small stick-figure ninja who uses a sword in brutal fashion, powerfully stabbing and slicing at enemies. Bright red blood streaks through the air in slow motion, permanently staining the ground around bodies. The ninja also can hang enemies with a rope, leaving them strung from ceilings. Players may opt to kill civilians, though they'll be penalized by failing a secondary objective if they choose to do so. Foes fight back with machine guns, pistols, and swords, frequently killing the ninja. Note, also, that this is an exceptionally challenging game that could easily become frustrating for less tenacious players.

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What's it about?

RONIN, a game about an acrobatic ninja exacting revenge on a quintet of wrongdoers, mashes together a couple of seemingly disparate genres: side-scrolling action and turn-based strategy. Players can freely move their agile little hero through a flat world of skyscrapers, laboratories, and discotheques, leaping between walls and sticking to the shadows on the way to recovering intelligence or reaching an assassination target. Then, when they decide to strike, the free-flow movement transforms into a game of turn-based tactics. Players select what to do -- stun, kill, leap, or swing away -- then watch as their ninja carries it out, followed immediately by enemies' movements and attacks. Completing secondary objectives, such as not killing civilians, not triggering alarms, and killing all enemies, earns players skill points that can be spent on special abilities that come in handy in tricky situations, such as dropping a noose from the ceiling to silently hang an enemy or instantly teleporting to an enemy's location and stunning him. Levels grow steeply in difficulty as the game progresses, but players can skip between chapters to replay older levels and achieve failed objectives to earn more skill points.   

Is it any good?

Ronin is a curious hybrid of a game that's a lot of fun to play when everything is working but a bit frustrating when things aren't meshing properly. The turn-based action is surprisingly quick, allowing players to input a move in only a second or two if they're ready and know what they want to do. The extra time makes it possible to put together long, satisfying, and just plain awesome strings of actions that might, say, see your ninja swinging through a window, leaping from a wall, and bowling over a couple of enemies to stun them before throwing a sword with precision to cut down a distant third foe.

But there also are times when no amount of strategizing helps. You'll leap from wall to ceiling and back again over and over while looking for a break without finding one until your ninja is eventually cornered and killed. Special skills can help a lot in these situations (assuming you can pull off a couple of stun attacks to charge and make them available to use), but earning special skills by completing challenging secondary objectives can be a chore. There's a great idea at the heart of Ronin, but it needed a little more polishing to really shine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. What about violence makes it disturbing? The blood and gore frequently associated with it? The motivations of the people perpetrating it? How did you feel about the cartoonish but bloody acts of vengeance depicted in Ronin?

  • Discuss the idea of mixing elements from distinct types of games. This game combines side-scrolling platformer action with turn-based strategy; does it work?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $9.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Devolver Digital
  • Release date: June 30, 2015
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Description

Themes & Topics

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