I’ve never quite understood the popularity of anime. Before you head to the comments and tell me what a horrible human I am, allow me to frustrate you further by defending my position. I have found that within the overwhelming majority of anime, there is a great deal of the following: incredibly simple plot points that are explained to death, horrible character design, attempts at humor being made at the worst possible times, and some of the most egregious examples of lewd, perverted portrayals of women ever. So my hopes for Ruvato: Original Complex weren’t especially high going into the game. After playing it, I can safely say that my opinion on anime still holds up.
Created by the interestingly-named studio REMIMORY, this isometric hack-and-slasher follows the player character Ria. After one final mission, her secret organization group that works to… do… secret stuff (?) is disbanded, and Ria can go home to raise the mysterious little girl that she kidnapped/rescued from said final mission. However, the group that she once worked with somehow learns of the girl, decides to kidnap her, and Ria is heavily wounded in the process. Fear not! For she is saved by a lazily inserted character that transforms her into a cyborg and bleaches her hair white. It is then that Ria must embark on a quest to defeat her former comrades and save the child.
If all of that sounds poorly communicated, it’s because it certainly is. This game’s story is operating on a Wattpad level. I’m sure that the writer(s) would be able to provide plenty of answers as to why things happen so quickly or what any of the relationships between the characters are, but they don’t provide those answers within the actual game. Right from the outset, it feels as if you’ve been plopped into the middle of the thirteenth season of the most generic cyberpunk anime ever created. Insert unoriginal questions about what it means to be human here, insert evil scientist who wants to perfect the human race here, insert shocking revelation that shocked absolutely no one here.
Compounding the story’s communication issues, is the fact that none of the characters are even the slightest bit interesting. Ria is a bland, stoic protagonist who blandly slices her way through baddies, while saying boringly predictable things to others. Villains are evil because they’re evil and not because of any actual motives, while friendly NPCs shatter the game’s serious tone by regularly saying, “hehehe”. In every way imaginable, this game’s story is a colossal failure.
Unfortunately, the visuals don’t bolster the game much either. Character designs range from ho-hum to outrageously bad. The main villain can be spotted from miles away due to his jagged hair, evil stare, and menacing coat he refuses to wear. Each of his cohorts, which serve as the game’s bosses, are over-designed as well. One is particularly pitiable due to her stupidly enormous breasts. Defeating her felt like more of a mercy killing so that she would no longer have to suffer terrible back pain.
Ugly character designs are made even worse by the game’s graphics. Each in-game model looks like they’ve been crafted from the same type of plastic that’s used to make those ludicrously expensive figurines that one sees in a GameStop. Perhaps anime enthusiasts will actually enjoy this look since one could imagine the game is actually taking place within the vivid imagination of someone playing with their anime figurines. That plastic feeling carries over into all of the game’s animations as well, because Ria’s movements and those of enemies feel oddly stiff. This isn’t too much of an issue, however, due to the clearly telegraphed enemy attacks.
Which brings us to how the actual game plays. You’ll move from small fighting area to small fighting area with a simple sword-slashing combo, the ability to dodge, and the ability to parry. As you take out goons and progress, you’ll collect materials which can be used to acquire and upgrade an assortment of skills that you switch between. All of this works pretty well, actually. Attacks have a nice weight to them, pulling off a parry isn’t too rough, and the length of your dodge can be adjusted depending on how long you hold the button.
Probably the most unique feature of the game is the fact that your attack power is increased with each foe that you eliminate. Baddies have a number above their head that represents how much health they have remaining, and you start a level with the ability to take away precisely one hit point. So, by the time you get to the end of a stage, you can be smacking extremely healthy enemies down with no more than a single blow. The trick is that you have to keep your killstreak going, or your damage bonus will decrease. It makes for a pretty slick gameplay loop where you try to zip your way through waves of foes as quickly as possible.
With the pleasant and cathartic combat system in mind, Ruvato: Original Complex on Xbox might be all that some people are looking for. The game can be completed within one or two sittings, and the combat certainly is engaging enough to warrant said completion. But if you just don’t see the appeal of repetitive, unoriginal, overly dramatic anime stories, you’re better off forgetting this one.