Zodi Plays: Ronin (Hey, you got your Mark of the Ninja in my Gunpoint!)

Hello and welcome back to me, LaZodiac, playing video games on the internet. Today we will be playing Ronin, a small indie game with the rather unique style of “turn based stealth platformer”. You are the Ronin, a girl with a super powered, kinetic-energy powered suit and sword, who is hunting down the people responsible for killing her father and ruining her life. Will revenge taste sweet, or just turn to bitter ash on our tongue? Let’s find out!

Like with all my main LPs this will update Monday and Friday. I’m going to say my usual “no spoilers” here, but there’s… not actually much PLOT to spoil for once. In this case it’s more of a mechanical event spoiler. Don’t talk about levels we haven’t been to yet, simple and easy. Of course this is doubly simple since I’m like, 70% sure none of you will have heard of this game before today. With that being said, let’s leap through that window and get on with Ronin!

Zodi Plays: Ronin [1] Old Man

Video Length: 24:01

Aaah, tutorials. This one has a pretty basic tutorial, but a good one. You learn the basics, hack a few computers, jump through a few windows, and kill a couple guys. The last level of this batch is the only “real” one difficulty wise. Let’s take a bit to talk about the enemies, since our own abilities are pretty well explained by the game itself.

First you’ve got the Security, who aim with a laser sight and shoot their pistol at you. I think they’ve got around 4 or 5 shots before they need to reload. They’re super easy to dodge, even when a bunch of them are all together. The only real issue with them is that if they get staggered such that you’re always being shot at every turn it can be hard to actually thin the heard. They are otherwise pretty easy to deal with.

Then you have the Samurai. These guys are tricky. They can’t be knocked out by flying into them, all you’ll get out of doing that is sliced in half. You need to get close enough to do your attack, and THAT will stun em for a few seconds so you can finish the job. Annoyingly, because this game is not perfect by any means, the samurai does not have a timer on how long they’re stunned. It’s basically a two turn window though. As well, their attacks suffer the same “it’s not 100% accurate” issue that your jumps do. Sometimes they don’t go as far as their aiming line goes due to just the make up of the stage. So they can be a little tricky on that regard. They typically swing around three times before needing to rest. Partly because they’re typically falling from a great height after a couple of swings.

The Old Man is… not an enemy. He willingly goes to his death without any qualms. Our future targets won’t… be like this at all, but it’s a nice indication that even if these guys are basically just targets for us to kill, they do have personalities. I like it. That said his noble “allowing himself to die” bit is a total trap because of how the last level goes and I kinda like that. After all, even this old bastard betrayed our father; do you really think he’s had enough of a change of heart to just die peacefully?

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Old Man is dead. Time for Wisegal.

Zodi Plays: Ronin [2] Wisegal

Video Length: 29:53

In this episode, hunt down Wisegal, the major mover and shaker of the corporation that killed our father. The first level is a rather large building with a huge, well lit middle section. It leads to some pretty tense moments, as we leap from wall to wall, platform to platform, avoiding gunfire. Thankfully, our new abilities are going to help out quite a bit. The second level involves elevatoring up past some deadly electrical wires and has a rather tricky combat encounter. The final level for Wisegal is infiltrating her awesome dance club, Swordpoint. Introduced in this set of levels are the Soldier, who takes aim and then fires for a full turn! They have to reload often, but otherwise are rather effective at cutting off means of attack. Wisegal herself is just a regular security gunwise, but she’s clearly a bit jumpier or nervous than the others. She’s well aware that there’s not much she can do.

Lets talk a bit about our abilities. This episode we’ve unlocked Shuriken Strike. It takes the same amount of momentum to use than the Blade Throw, but it (usually) hits every enemy in sight, whereas the Blade Throw only hits one guy. It can be blocked by bodies (as I so helpfully show) so be careful, but otherwise it’s a really effective tool to stun large groups of enemies. Blade Throw kills a guy, but only hits one person, can very easily whiff or hit the wrong target, and leaves you defenseless (for now) so it’s a trade off on which move you want to do.

And, later in the episode, we get ourselves the Shadow Strike! This costs three momentum to use, and you need to be on the ground to use it, but it’s VERY good. You can warp to any enemy within sight, stunning them. The real power of Shadow Strike, which I also show, is that since it gains you one momentum due to stunning a guy, and is fast enough that most enemies are still reacting to where you WERE… you can kill the person you stunned, gaining enough momentum to Shadow Strike again, zipping all the way across the room again. Repeat until everyone is dead.

All in all, Wisegal’s chapter is a step up difficulty wise, but by this point you’re starting to get the baseline powers the game wants you to have. It’s got this nice ebb and flow to it, I think. I hope you all enjoys, I’ll see you all next time!

So, Swordpoint. Now the initial obvious joke is that hah it’s the point of a sword for stabby or whatever. The real joke to me is that Tom Francis’ game Gunpoint (named such due to the general theme of “what is the point of a gun in a video game?”) has… a lot of the same general mechanics as Ronin! Its not turn based and its hacking is more extensive but you’re a super suit wearing badass who is launching people through windows with real big jumps. The art design even looks similar, especially with the buildings. I think it’s a cute reference to what probably served as inspiration.

Somewhat unrelated; searching up Gunpoint’s steam page to talk about it here made me learn that the bundle of Francis’ three games (Gunpoint, Heat Signature, and Tactical Breach Wizards) is no longer called the Defenestration Trilogy, which makes me sad because it was a very good joke (but honestly WAS slightly misleading since while there is a lot of defenestration in Gunpoint, the game encourages you NOT to kill people, so jumping them through windows is one of the things you actually do the least…).

EDIT: Oops I was looking at the wrong bundle nevermind. I forgot Morphblade exists because its not my type of game.

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Ahhh man I love this game! I thought it WAS by the Gunpoint guy for a while, it’s obviously an elaboration on “leaping platformer”, but clearly it’s own game too. It’s one of those rare ones that’s really fun to stealth, but also gets more fun the more frenetic!

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Strong agree, going loud in this game is always excellent. There was a trick I was actually trying to do in the Swordpoint club that I kept messing up that just makes me feel so awesome, and is a testament to how good this game is when it clicks together right.

I’ll show it off next time probably.

Oh hey it’s Friday. Another Ronin, perhaps?

Zodi Plays: Ronin [3] Doctor

Video Length: 27:26

Our next target is the Doctor, the man who made all our wonderful toys. In this episode we have the introduction to the last unit in the game; civilians! Both male and female, though they have no difference beyond appearance. They are probably the element of the game that most encourages you to actually do stealth. If they see us, or if they see sign of something bad happening, they will call in a lockdown like regular enemies… and in order to get the skill point for each stage you have to avoid a lockdown AND avoid killing any civilians. There is NO way to stop them from making a lockdown call, because stunning is always temporary. As such for our purposes being seen is akin to death.

Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot for me to say about the episode. We pick up Sword Return and Decoy during this episode, and we also get introduced to security lasers that will kill on contact. We also show off how the Shadow Strike really continues to be one of the best skills, and how Sword Throw, while very cool, has some issues when it comes to aiming. Also, the confrontation against the Doctor is real good, though I wish I had played it a little better.

And that’s it for today’s episode. Hope you all enjoyed! Next time, we take down the penultimate enemy. Take care.

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Time to get a little… sneaky.

Zodi Plays: Ronin [4] Officer

Video Length: 29:08

In this video, we begin our hunt for the next target of our revenge, the Officer. An assassin and combat leader of our enemy, he’ll be rather tough to take down. He obviously knows we’re coming since we are coming for him during a job. And given the layout of his eventual boss arena… he’s prepared for every eventuality. Unfortunately for him, and potentially unfortunately for you viewers, I have a strategy that is entirely legit as long as you accept that the game is programmed in a kinda jank way, which I will discuss in a moment.

Other things to note is that this set of levels introduces Land Minds, AOE death fields that trigger once you touch the ground near them. They’re used to some effect, but given they are pretty tricky to deal with they aren’t used as much as you’d expect. We also get our first (of two) instances of a Neurotoxin room, which counts down from ten seconds until the release of a deadly neurotoxin that is supposed to kill everything in the room, as retalation for you hacking a computer. It uh… doesn’t see to work, and since this video is the first time I’ve ever been in the room when it triggered I’m not sure what gives.

Now… let us discuss the elephant in the room. The way I took down the Officer. The way the game function is that as long as you are not seen, you are not put into combat mode. As long as you are not in combat mode, you can pause at any time so you can fine-tune your actions. Theoretically if you had enough reflexes you could do a lot of crazy things without pausing. As it stands though, there is some advantages this free pause mechanic gives you. Mainly, it allows you the time to use your momentum in ways that are… PROBABLY unintended, given Shuriken Barrage is not accessible unless you’re in combat, but, well, if Blade Throw wasn’t supposed to be usable like this they did not program it correctly to prevent the use of it.

As a result, due to the fact that killing gives two blips of momentum, and catching gives three, it is, in some specific situations- primarily the fight with the Officer- it is possible to do a dance of unbelievable death from a relatively safe place, throwing out your sword and having it return to you for more long range death. Sure, alarms will be raised, but from the place I stand for the majority of that fight, you can in fact hit every single person involved in the encounter. It is such a weird thing since it FEELS set up on purpose, but at the same time really really does not.

If you are unsatisfied with this, I will go back and clear it properly in the sorta bonus/unbonus video I intend to make that shows off some of the cooler things you can do in this game that I’ve discovered while playing but haven’t been able to pull off (so exactly one thing) and New Game Plus mode.

All that being said i hope you did enjoy, and I’ll see you all next time for uh… the final target. Take care everybody.

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Definitely almost forgot due to being laid off and time meaning nothing anymore.

Zodi Plays: Ronin [5] [FINALE] Boss

Video Length: 29:57

While this may be the final main update, there is going to be shot bonus video Monday as well. Just a heads up.

Here we are, the final challenge. The last three levels aren’t the hardest in the world, but they are a culmination of the entire game. Mixtures of samurai, soldier, security and civilian. Stealthy navigation and deadly pitched combat. By this point if you’ve been doing things right you’ve gotten every upgrade but one, so you’re fully kitted out. All you can do is go forward.

The final level, the confrontation against the Boss, is a pretty challenging one. Hardly any good routes for stealth, with that kill zone in between three rooms of guys being the mountain you need to get past. Now, I mentioned there are no lock downs in this stage, and that is true… but there is another feature of it that really makes this level shine. If you get shot… you do not die. You instead get a death timer, counting down from 9 seconds. Every bullet you take removes a second, and every person you kill refills your timer. Make it to the end and kill the Boss, no matter the cost.

Now… didn’t exactly show that off in this video, and even in Monday’s bonus video I kinda just… didn’t actually get shot till the end because oops I might be too good at the game and don’t know how to fake it. But rest assured, it is really dang cool. As is this run, if I’m being honest.

And yeah. That’s Ronin. Not the longest game in the world, but very tight and very fun. I enjoyed it a lot, and enjoyed bringing it all to you, my good good friends. I hope you all enjoyed. After Monday’s bonus video, it is time for Custom Robo. Take care.

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Okay, let’s bring this one home.

Zodi Plays: Ronin [#B] Aim To Kill

Video Length: 8:57

Did I make this partly just to play the final level again and have you watch me do a rather well executed run of it? Maybe. Am I just kinda too dumb to show off the death mechanic while still winning and ended up having to do what I did in order to show it all? Probably. Did I kick a man into my sword as it returned to me? No that was last time, but I still think this one had some cool moves in it.

That aside, I also show off new game plus, which has the following features; the grapple is maybe a little longer (it is unclear but I’m pretty sure it is), we have access to all of our abilities, lockdowns are now instant game over which is a LOT to deal with, and most importantly of all… the soldiers wth assault rifles can adjust their aim while firing. That final change makes New Game Plus aggressively hard!

And with that… we draw it to a close. This bloody tale of revenge was quite enjoyable, but now it is finished. Next time (A Taste Of’s and B-Side Halo aside) we tackle Custom Robo. Hope you all enjoyed, see you next time. Take care!

(@Admods this can go in the complete section now. Thank you.)