ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  Login Using Facebook

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (477)

view profile + 
Pikmin 4 4/5
No Man's Sky 4/5
Dragon Quest Monsters: ... 4/5
Assassin's Creed IV: Bl... 2.5/5
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands 3.5/5
Ratchet & Clank: Rift A... 4.5/5
Super Mario Bros. Wonder 4.5/5
The Alliance Alive 2/5
Catmaze 4.5/5
Turnip Boy Commits Tax ... 4.5/5
Seasons After Fall 3/5
Rayon Riddles - Rise of... 0.5/5
World to the West 4/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Streets of Kamurocho 2.5/5
Aeon of Sands - The Tra... 2.5/5
Greak: Memories of Azur 3.5/5
Yaga 2.5/5
Riverbond 3/5
Bug Fables: The Everlas... 4.5/5
Front Mission 1st Remake 1.5/5
Middle-earth: Shadow of... 3.5/5
Bladed Fury 3.5/5
Ruzar - The Life Stone 3.5/5
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin 3.5/5

Next 25

Ruzar - The Life Stone   PC (Steam) 

Too Little, Too Late    3.5/5 stars

“Ruzar: The Life Stone” (“Ruzar”) is the first, last, and only game published by a one-man Indie studio calling itself Hammer Glass, which is located in an undetermined European country. Coming out of nowhere in 2015, Hammer Glass tried to hang onto the coattails of another Indie studio, Almost Human, when the latter revived the classic grid-based Dungeon Crawler subgenre of RPG with the 2012 release of “Legend of Grimrock.” Unfortunately, “Ruzar” was too little, too late, and like so many other small businesses, Hammer Glass folded up and vanished during the COVID pandemic of 2020.

“Ruzar” is built in the Personal Edition of the Unity Engine, so that should give informed gamers a good idea of what to expect: A very basic experience. The visuals are adequate, looking almost painfully similar to Almost Human’s two “Legend of Grimrock” titles, but with several different environmental tilesets to help the game’s handful of different mazes stand apart from each other. Enemy variety is fairly minimal, with a number of light variants on ‘skeleton’ making up the bulk of the bestiary, and a handful of other unique enemies that can all vary in strength – but not necessarily appearance – depending on where they’re encountered. The lone humanoid NPC looks incredibly mediocre and uninteresting, and animations tend to be basic and unspectacular.

Audio is likewise mediocre, with little-to-no actual music in-game, and no voiceover work. Instead, there are simple ambient dungeon noises – and even those are quite minimal – and the player character grunts and yells in either a masculine or feminine voice depending on the gender the player chose during character creation.

Technically, “Ruzar” is ‘fine.’ It never crashed, glitched, or did anything else stupid and facepalm-worthy. However, it still doesn’t feel quite ‘right.’ Playing at my screen’s native 1080p resolution, I felt like everything was too small, especially the cursor, which forced me to ‘downgrade’ the resolution to 720p to make the experience more comfortable. Yes, “Ruzar” is a traditional mouse-driven Dungeon Crawler without native Xinput support, so I was glad I played it on Steam and was thus able to customize a reasonable interface onto my Steam Controller. “Ruzar” does at least go further in modernization than some throwback Dungeon Crawlers, as it features a number of useful shortcut hotkeys for things like attacking, switching weapons, and drinking potions, which really cut down on the amount of clicking required, and which I really appreciated.

“Ruzar” tells its tale through a series of captioned still images. Apparently, the titular Lifestone was hidden away in a remote, mountainous region, guarded by a tribe of ascetics known as the titular Ruzar. People came from far and wide to see the Lifestone and test its fabled ability to grand immortality, yet the Ruzar always turned them away…

That is, until a pair of sisters came to the Lifestone’s sanctuary, and one of them used her feminine wiles to outfox the Ruzar and claim the Stone for herself. Unsurprisingly, she turned into an immortal monster, and an aura of palpable evil poured out of the Stone’s sanctuary, wiping out the Ruzar and attracting other monsters to infest the formerly holy place.

In another kingdom, the Powers that Be decided that they would end the scourge of the Ruzar and reclaim the Lifestone for themselves. To this end, they put on a series of fierce gladiatorial trials in order to hone a heartless, vicious killer capable of taking on the Lifestone’s bearer and the corrupted mazes that surround her. That gladiator is the player.

The player is free to craft accustom character of either sex and choose from a small handful of 2D portraits to represent themselves. We never see our hero in 3D, though we are able to pick and choose from a tiny handful of dialog options when speaking to the shopkeeper at the beginning of the game, or a handful of lost souls who want help with various menial quests.

Ultimately, “Ruzar’s” backstory and lore are competent. Unfortunately, the execution is not, with nearly all of the dialog and narrative text coming off as machine translated and proofread by a non-native speaker. Thankfully, the awkward text doesn’t get in the way of a handful of hints and clues scattered throughout the game, leaving their intents and solutions clear.

“Ruzar” is also quite short, clocking in at around 15 hours for a playthrough. Of course, the game features a New Game+ mode and the achievement list actively encourages the player to tackle the dungeon over and over with different character builts, but the overall experience just isn’t compelling or deep enough to make me want to do that.

“Ruzar” is a stripped-down, streamlined take on the classic Dungeon Crawler genre as exemplified by 1986/7’s “Dungeon Master.” You’ve got your character who gets dropped off without any possessions at the entrance to a maze-like dungeon full of traps, spatial puzzles, and monsters. Yes, the singular is correct: Character. While Dungeon Crawlers have been party-based affairs since the beginning, “Ruzar” opts to give the player a single party member who is supposed to be good at everything.

But being good at everything is impossible. I chose to play a magic user in “Ruzar,” since I rarely do that in other games, and the result ended up fairly mixed. I couldn’t stand toe-to-toe with any of the game’s monsters, and thus needed to do “the dance” at all times, stepping back or to the side when an enemy was about to attack, then moving back in front of the foe to unload my own attack once it was off cooldown. Magic power does NOT regenerate automatically in “Ruzar,” which makes starting off as a mage-like character a complete joke. After acquiring a Power Staff – which provides both passive magic regen and a blanket spell cost discount – magic becomes more useful, but still isn’t going to kill things. I ultimately found the basic Ice spell and first-tier Healing spell to be the most useful magic in the game, simply because freezing an enemy stops it from moving or attacking for the duration, allowing our mighty caster to beat it to death (slowly) with their magic staff.

Character leveling is somewhat bespoke, however, though not to the same “use it to improve it” degree as classic Dungeon Crawlers. Upon killing enough enemies or completing enough banal quests for the shopkeeper or lost souls at specific points in the dungeon, the player gains enough experience to level up. Leveling up grants 2 stat points to spend on the game’s slate of D&D-inspired stats. Starting at level 5, leveling up also grants a skill point that can be spent on any of the three skill trees. The Warrior tree is for melee weapons and toughness. The Ranger tree is for ranged weapons and critical hits. The Mage tree is for spellcasting. And all three of them kind of suck. These are true skill ‘trees,’ which force the player to spend a certain amount of points in low-level skills on each branch before gaining access to the actually-valuable skills at the very end of each branch. I ultimately finished the game at a paltry level 20, and hadn’t really unlocked any good or interesting skills in any of the trees.

Character stats are somewhat weird and annoying, frequently feeling like there are too many of them, with excessively-narrow character traits tied to each of them. For example, improving Strength does NOT actually increase the amount of weight a character can carry before being slowed down… that’s Endurance. Likewise, the character’s amount of magic points is controlled by the Spirit stat, while the number of spell slots is controlled by Intelligence. Furthermore, the number of points invested in each stat that are required for perceptible gains in performance seem excessively high, and built entirely around the prospect of a player dragging a single character through New Game+ multiple times.

Outside of combat and character-building, “Ruzar” is a fine and competently-built Dungeon Crawler. The mazes are reasonable, and there’s an auto map. Secrets are plentiful, and a little chime plays to let the player know when they’ve found one. Old, crusty guff from the earliest days of Dungeon Crawlers is largely gone, with no need to find and consume food or water, instead employing Soulslike bonfires to recover lost health and magic, and hidden, out-of-the-way smoldering meteorites that can be destroyed to stop monsters in that particular region of the dungeon to stop respawning. There are even modern fast-travel and loot storage points scattered throughout the dungeon, making revisiting past floors and areas far less tedious than it is in other games of the subgenre, and allowing the player to hoard potions, arrows, and other items without having to carry them – since weight capacity for a single character really isn’t very much.

“Ruzar: The Life Stone” is a competently-made Dungeon Crawl for a one-man effort. However, it displays fundamental design flaws in both its character-building systems and in its narrative use of language that simply can’t be overlooked. Sadly, while I ultimately enjoyed crawling this particular dungeon, I don’t think this is a game that will stick in my memory in any meaningful way. As a neo-Dungeon Crawler from the cRPG Renaissance, it’s simply too little, too late.

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 3.5/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5



Recent Comments
Comment On Review

Log In
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Pikmin 4 game review by Nelson Schneider
A Hat in Time game review by Chris Kavan
No Man's Sky game review by Nelson Schneider
Sonic Colors game review by Megadrive
Dragon Quest Monsters: The... game review by Nelson Schneider
Sunset Overdrive game review by Chris Kavan
The Vagrant game review by Chris Kavan
Cthulhu Saves Christmas game review by Nick

New Game Lists

Backlog by Nelson Schneider
Top PlayStation 2 Games by Megadrive
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Games I Own: Switch Digital by dbarry_22
Top Nintendo (NES) Games by Nick
Backlog by Matt
Top Game List by SIngli6
Top Game List by Jonzor




Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us


About us



Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use


Are you sure you want
to delete this review?