Ronin is an interesting revenge-fuelled(-ish) turn-based 2D action experience, with Polish indie dev Tomasz Wacławek taking smart steps to craft a much-needed opportunity to carry out the mission of a deadly, if not always stealthy, assassin. It isn’t a particularly long game (which goes well with this not particularly long review), but the simple-yet-satisfying turn-based action provides enough of a punchy experience to warrant a go, with wicked murder moments aplenty.
While the story of Ronin is a simple Kill Bill knockoff, the straightforward narrative and cyberpunk aesthetic are well suited to the comic book art style. The revenge story is not particularly enthralling, and the level design quickly becomes repetitive, with little remarkable features to help in differentiating between levels. The lack of variety in regards to level types and notable similarity between Ronin and other well-received stealth/noire-ish puzzler Gunpoint does nothing to help this title make a name for itself. Despite these lacklustre and derivative elements, the gameplay that is delivered is consistent and addictive.
The controls feel initially rather strange, and it does take quite a few attempts to get the hang of jumping, attacking, climbing and whatnot. Once it has clicked, Ronin delivers any number of opportunities to pull off impressive assaults against enemy guards. To successfully circumvent a level, the player needs to circumvent enemy sightlines and create katana-shaped holes in the chests of unsuspecting (and some would argue undeserving…) guards, before hacking terminals and making the speedy getaway on a well-placed motorbike. Once guards have you in the laser-accurate sight they do not relent, so it’s important to strike first and with a strategic vision before alerting the horde. The dance of dodging enemies while trying to close in for the kill on a restricted turn-based format is perpetually amusing, and ends often in well-earned victory.
Despite some drawbacks and pitfalls in Ronin’s design, this odd title does very well to provide amusing combat scenarios to prove your worth as a mouse-clicking stealthy-ish samurai.
Select Start Media was provided with a copy of Ronin by Devolver Digital.