Review: Ritual – A Nice Setup Let Down By Boring Gameplay

 

Just in case there’s any confusion, Ritual is not an adaptation of the fantastic horror novel by Adam Nevill, though we’d almost prefer it if that were the case. Instead, Ritual is a top-down action RPG in which you play as a powerful Sorcerer who partakes in a quest of revenge after a failed sacrificial attempt from a group of cultists. Sadly, it’s an interesting premise for an uninteresting game.

Ritual is all about defeating hordes of enemies within confined arenas. As the stages progress, more and more creatures (both big and small) fill the screen, although none of them seem to be in a particular hurry to deal you any harm. As the sorcerer, you’ll automatically attack enemies upon contact, and you can cast spells with A and B, picking up blue gems scattered across the arena to rebuild your mana gauge.

The big focus with Ritual is your character’s power level. Starting at 1, your power level will increase as you kill off enemies, but decrease if you manage to get attacked yourself. Some of the bigger creatures in the game will have a power level much higher than you own, so you’ll need to spend some time defeating groups of the smaller ‘grunts’ in order to bring yourself on par with the more formidable foes.

Ritual’s biggest problem is actually one of the game’s key features. As described by the developers themselves, you can effectively watch the game play itself. Your character moves automatically, and should it stray too far towards any side of the screen, it’ll simply bounce back and continue along its way. You can use the analogue stick to guide it around, of course, but for the most part, the game is quite content to let you simply sit back and watch it do the work for you.

It’s quite frankly a bit boring, and should you decide to control your character directly, there’s little more to the game than just moving around and automatically swiping your sword at enemies. We were admittedly rather impressed with the sheer amount of customisation options available, but this is almost rendered moot by such bland gameplay. We suspect it would work much, much better on mobile devices, but for Switch owners, this is an incredibly shallow experience.

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