There are a lot of Samurai games in the App Store. There are also a lot of endless running games. But when you mash them together, do you get the purest form of sword slashing sprinting fun? Well, Ronin is a brand new game that slices and dices those two genres and weaves them back together in a brand new way. Lets have a look at Ronin and see if it's a game that will make us want to commit oibara seppuku.
Right from the title screen, you can see that Ronin is a very well designed game. It looks gorgeous on a retina display. It is a game that proves that you don't need all the pixels in the world to be simply stunning.
While many endless running games are just repetitive schleps through the same cut and paste background for as far as you can go, Ronin treats you to an ever changing array of beautifully crafted backgrounds that ease your eye into a Zen-like state. They're very reminiscent of traditional Japanese woodblock prints and are so detailed that they suck you into that little four inch iPhone screen.
Most endless running games don't give you very many options when it comes to getting around obstacles. Ronin, though, gives you numerous ways to make it as far as you can through any of them enemies they can throw at you. You can leap over them, slide under them, and smack them in the head with your sword. All of this is done with a few simple gestures on the screen. There's no virtual buttons to get in the way of the game's beauty. You simply do what comes most natural to us iOS gamers, and it feels great.
So does the variety in objectives for you fulfill while out for a stroll through the woods and towns of feudal Japan. Along the way you'll pass by someone in need of help or simply provides you with advice. You have to slash your way through royal propaganda signs, slice open caged holding friends, and collect bottles of sake for someone. All of these would be treated as separate game modes in lesser titles, but Ronin seamlessly adds them in as you go along on your run. Each section stays long enough to be enjoyed and they are mixed up and scattered enough to keep you guessing at what it is you'll next. It provides you with a crisp variety of things to do while you're tearing ass through town, and the controls make each action achievable with the flick of a finger.
The controls are wonderfully immediate and fluid. You'll never find yourself struggling to pull off the complex movements required to make it through a hoard of enemies. There are five types of enemies for you to beware of on your quest to help people while you're out jogging in your wooden flip flops. Your main grunts and samurai don't put up much of a fight and can easily be dealt with or avoided. Pike wielding warriors and ogres are a different story. You need to either slide under their attacks or bash them in the head respectively. The controls are so good that when you're faced with a line of different enemies all requiring a different combination of moves, you can easily execute them with a series of deft swipes.
Power ups and progression is another fantastic addition to Ronin. You collect blue wisps along your way that fill up a special gauge that will allow you to activate whichever ability you've purchased from experience points. Each ability is useful and adds a new level of strategy to the game. Plus, it is awesome to double tap the screen and turn into a giant wolf.
Ronin has something else though. It has a certain charm and attractiveness that I can't quite put my finger on. The game is simply fun. It has all of the up sides of iOS gaming with none of the downs. It is a game that keeps you coming back and each time you do, it will reward you with something new. It is a case of the sum of its parts being much greater than the actual whole.
Simply put, Ronin is a game that will make others commit App Store hara kiri. Ronin is one of the best games I've played all year and is one that will survive the inevitable game purging of my iOS hard drive. It will remain in the hallowed hard drive where games usually only survive for only a little more than a week. That, my friends, is one of the highest recommendations I can give.