Freeware Garden: Ronin

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on August 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

The sun. The glorious EGA sun. Let us all salute it!

Looking for an excellent, stealthy murder simulator? Lucky you, then, for here’s Ronin to cater to your every (virtual) killing whim; a game that’s pure of heart and doesn’t really bother with formalities. Or a plot. A game that simply wants to entertain you and help you hone those subtly tactical mouse and keyboard skills.

All you have to do here is guide your oddly ninja-esque ronin through three increasingly complex and demanding levels using an expanding arsenal of moves. That, and murder a heavily-guarded, smartly-dressed, portly gentleman hiding at the end of each level.

Sounds a bit like a short-form remake of Saboteur, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.

Definitely not Saboteur. And not even a hint of Manic Miner. Tsk, tsk, tsk.Though still something between a prototype and a demo, Ronin is already both one of the most innovative action games I’ve played in years and a superbly clever fighting game in itself. It’s also turn-based. Yes, turn-based, as in you make one move, the baddies make a move, you make a move and so on and so forth, though this only applies to combat situations. When not in immediate danger of being shot you can freely jump and grapple hook through as many windows as you like in proper, traditional real time.

You can even hack computers or play around with elevators, but from the moment a gun is pointed your way everything freezes and switches to turns, which will initially come as a shock to you. Well, it won’t now I’ve told you all about it, but I was pretty confused when my fluidly striding avatar was suddenly only allowed a single action before the guys in the suits shoot him dead.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a mechanic that works way better than any time-slowing, combat-pausing gimmick the way of The Matrix and Max Payne. It’s brilliant and fluid and when coupled with Ronin’s incredibly elegant controls, Tomasz Wacławek’s Windows-only opus really shines. You must simply play it, you must.

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14 Comments »

  1. Niko says:

    Ahh, Saboteur. I recall I haven’t finished it once, but it was quite a good game probably.

  2. LTK says:

    You can also hear what Tom Francis has to say about it! You know, just as a guy who was interested in the game for literally no reason other than that it looked cool.

  3. P.Funk says:

    Are Tom Francis fans spamming this article for any particular reason?

    • Lexx87 says:

      Because the developer billed Ronin as a GunPoint ripoff, so TF did a Lets Play of it.

      • gwathdring says:

        More specifically, I think he wanted to take the opportunity not just to bump a cool game he liked but to get in before any fans started shouting “BOOOOOO! RIPOFF! BOOO!”

        Which is pretty cool of him, I think.

    • Hypocee says:

      Because two people, two of them, two, posted with the second one of the two people not reading the previous comment.

  4. SuddenSight says:

    This game is very fun. However, I am either completely daft or combat weirdly takes away your ability to walk.

    The game actually kind reminds me of Mark of the Ninja too because of how jumping on enemies to stun them works. Plus, MotN had a pause-whenever-you-want button, which felt a little bit like the turn based combat of Ronin.

    I couldn’t finish the last level because the game ran too slowly for me, but I will keep my eye on this one because it is really, really fun.

    • Hypocee says:

      My understanding is that there is no walking in combat, only shoulder-rolling by ‘jumping’ toward the floor, because Ninja.

      • SuddenSight says:

        I understand somewhat – the shoulder roll thing definitely looks cool. It just seems a little silly when I overshoot my jump by 3 pixels and now I can’t kill the guy *right next to me*… Made worse because my character seems to love rolling on all his landings, except when I don’t want him to roll. Sigh… (I am so bad at videogames)

  5. Shieldmaiden says:

    That was fantastic. I need more!

  6. cpt_freakout says:

    It’s amazing what you can still do with a turn-based system :D

  7. Phasma Felis says:

    Combat proper is turn-based, pre-combat platforming is sort of real-time-with-pause. If you’re wondering how that works, all you need to know is that I just:

    (a) threw myself headfirst through a third-story window
    (b) as my line of sight cleared the top of the next window down, chucked a sword through it bound for some poor schmuck guard’s chest
    (c) as the sword left my hand, fired a grapple into the wall above the window, torquing my outward fall into a whipcrack inward lunge through the still-glittering cloud of window glass
    (d) released the grapple line at the precise moment to launch myself 40 feet across the room boots-first into the face of the second guard, whose fingers had just begun to twitch towards his handgun
    (e) standing over his stunned body, called my sword to my hand, reversed it, and pinned him to the floor.

    This game has the potential to produce Hotline Miami-grade precision death ballet.

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