Previews

Heroes Of Ruin: Is it a handheld Baldur's Gate?

Search for the hero inside...your pocket...

Heroes Of Ruin producer Tim Schwalk has a grand vision for 3DS, one that bleeds the spoils of co-op hack 'n' slash into the wider world.

"We have what we call the Traders Network," he says during our demo. "If you're playing as the Vindicator, who has big swords, and you start collecting guns you can't use, you might sell them to the Gunslinger.

"Next time you pass someone in the street the 3DS communicates the sale, and when they next play the game they can visit the Traders Network and buy things you'd sold."

Good thing too - with tens of thousands of items, you'll need wireless trades to find the pointiest sticks and messiest guns. It's one part of N-Space's open-armed approach to action RPGs.

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Four-man co-op lets any combination of characters quest together. All got a hankering for the lady spell-flinger? Just use character customisation to differentiate yourself from your perve-o-friends. As in Dragon Quest IX, equipped kit appears in action, letting you show off that hard-won pointy stick.

If the company is fresh, the world is fresher. Schwalk describes a "dynamic creation" system that crafts bespoke dungeons for every party. "You'll get a different level layout, different enemy encounter groups. There are puzzles throughout the game as well - these are fixed 'pieces' that appear somewhere in the level. Puzzles will always appear somewhere on the quest."

After about five dead ends he does admit that "one of the perils of doing a demo with dynamic environments is that even though I want to lead you to the miniboss, I'm not entirely sure where it is."

We ask if this ever leads to players getting endless strips of drab forest corridor. Turns out the designers maintain subtle control over tile placement. The lead-up to our boss encounter - an evil tree, no less - always takes you over an ominous bridge, for example.

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Backroom string-pulling also ensures the game's excellent 3D gets to shine; it knows to throw in the odd foreboding chasm to keep us sweet during flatter moments. Thems some deep chasms, for sure, the birds-eye view letting us peer down into their sinking gloom.

It's clear this is a passion project, spurred by the team's love of Baldur's Gate and the like. N-Space have been unlucky with pet projects before - Winter1 for Wii is, er, on ice - but Square Enix are keen to see Heroes through. As are we.

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