‘Ruiner’ packs stylistic punch in color palette, cyberpunk aesthetic


Photo Courtesy of Steam

Gameplay from the video game “RUINER” is shown above. The game was released on Sept. 26, 2017.

By Aidan Finn, staff writer

I remember it was the summer of 2019. Family vacation to Florida on the last weekend before school started up again and made everyone miserable. The humidity had the air conditioning in our hotel room on overdrive, and outside was the familiar white noise and distorted hotel lobby music playing outside the front doors. It was there I had probably the greatest movie-watching experience I ever had, that being watching 1988’s “Akira” on the Hulu app on my broken Nintendo Switch and sitting on a 90-degree hotel balcony. On the surface, it was a nonideal viewing experience, but the combination of summer atmosphere and late-night vibes was the icing on the cake for watching a cyberpunk masterpiece.

“Akira” is such a monstrous film, bloated in beautiful cyberpunk artwork and dark themes that it would require a separate article itself to give justice in recommending. It’s necessary, however, to elaborate not on the substance but the atmosphere found in “Akira,” as it is the basis of a fantastic 2017 twin-stick shooter, “Ruiner.” 

“Ruiner” is a cyberpunk arcade shooter following an unnamed assassin in a dirty, industrial dystopia with his only objective being told to kill particular mega-corporate heads by a mysterious and hypnotic voice in his head. But the story is not why you are here. “Ruiner” knows exactly what it sets out to be, a stylish romp through a unique yet inspired cyberpunk city. With elements ripped straight from the likes of “Blade Runner” and “Ghost in the Shell,” it sports a lavish red and black color palette, painting the world in a violent, crude manner. Top it off with an electric soundtrack of heavy percussion and hypnotic vocals that convey the descent downwards, and your character embarks in this futuristic underworld.

Benedykt Szneider, Polish concept artist and illustrator behind the look of “Ruiner,” spoke with buzz about what went into crafting this world and his signature style being implemented.

buzz: Can you elaborate on your background and what got you into video game art design? 

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    Benedykt Szneider: I was drawing comic books since I was a child, so all my inspirations come from European comic books and manga. After art college, I have been working around the game industry for a few years as a marketing artist, doing graphic design, concept art and directing game trailers. But I craved for something more long term. I met a few people while working on first Witcher games, and when they decided to run their own project, I jumped in quickly. That was the start of the project, which eventually became “Ruiner.” 

    buzz: What went into designing “Ruiner”? I really digged the color palette. What inspired it? ( “Akira”?)

    BS: Thanks. Visual part can be superficial. I always thought it’s important to have this badass attitude these stories had. Also, it was never supposed to be a homage… it’s a tricky balance of work. Kind of represents the way few of us think, our taste. It was quite natural.

    buzz: Advice for college students looking into pursuing professional art design in the game industry?

    BS: I’d suggest having one foremost skill you can be identified with. Be it graphic design, concept art, FX, etc. Someone will hire you based on this particular skill, and then you can push around a bit more. “I can do everything”  is not particularly helpful at the start. Try to gather from a large pool of inspiration. Artstation and similar sites are great, but they are eating each other, and stuff becomes too similar. Go out there, read and watch art books, great masters, comic books, etc. Create your taste basing on what you like, and eventually, these inspirations will sum up as your style. At least, I think that’s how it worked for me.

    buzz: “Ghost in the Shell,” “Blade Runner” or “Akira”? 

    BS: These titles made a big impact on me overall. I was watching them relentlessly when I was a teenager, and I always later aspired to do at least something similar in style. These visual references are now beaten to death on the Internet, you know, with homages and stuff, so they lost a bit of magic appeal to me. I haven’t watched them for years now, but they made me who I am.

    I consider the “Ghost in the Shell” anime to be one of the best movies ever, even outside the world of animation. “Ruiner” is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

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