It's absolutely unbelievable how this project's finished debut was over a year ago. I got introduced to this hack all the way back in 2014 and was my introduction to the Fire Emblem hacking community. This project was great back then and now, having just beat it for my second time tonight, is even better than I last remember when I beat it a year ago.
One of the things I love about this hack is its simplicity. It doesn't have an overwhelming amount of bells and whistles - just a simple 22 chapter Fire Emblem adventure, and that's perfectly okay! I feel as if Fire Emblem hack creators these days focus way too much on the details and get caught up on making a grand adventure when making a simple story with good map design is okay too.
I don't recall the last time I've been this engaged in a video game story; the beginning is deceptively simple but is so much more as you go on. I also love the approach of having one set of support pairings, but each of these pairings being really fleshed out. Quality > quantity! I especially give you props for fleshing out the backstories of all the primary characters; each of their motivations feels very genuine. Top that with clever writing and you got a story that still holds up well upon replaying it.
And the gameplay is also really solid! Though I gotta say, a few maps did drag on a little bit. The generic units, while an interesting idea of paper, didn't always execute well in my opinion. While chapters 4x and 6x were great for this, the other chapters where they were included, while necessary for the story, in my opinion at least, didn't need to be there. Also, I really do think that more playable units would be nice. I understand that Vance only leads a squad of mercenaries, so in context of the story it makes sense that your army is small relative to the enemy's size. But the lack of variety really screws over the game's replayability, as you're more likely to use the same units over and over again for each playthrough, especially in the early game. I feel as if that having Vance's parents and Bjorn playable in the late game or Russel and Raizen giving Vance a few units to toy around with mid-game or periodically throughout the early-mid game would have definitely spiced things up. Also, why don't halbediers have +15% crit? That feature seemed oddly missing, and it was kind of disappointing to find out after promoting Kristoph.
A major problem I found is that the promotional item distribution is not done well. You only get about 7 or 8 master seals to play around with until the late game when, for some reason, you get two more at chapter 17 when everyone at that point should be promoted. However, everyone except Ava is un-promoted and one of those master seals is going to have to be given up anyways for Vance (unless if you want an unpromoted Vance running around in the mid-game which isn't ideal since he's the main lord and is required in most maps). In other words, you have a very limited selection of units to promote and by the time chapter 17 rolls around, being a level 1 promoted unit is way too underleveled. You have no choice to keep using the same 7 or 8 units that got the lucky master seal in the mid-game all the way to the final chapters since they're the only units that can keep up with the enemies. If it were up to me, I would probably take the two master seals you get in chapter 17 and put one of them in chapter 7 and another in chapter 13. If you add the general maximum deployment number for each chapter up 1-3 units (which could have been really nice), a lot of the game could be so much better.
My favorite chapters were chapters 4 (an escape map done very well), chapter 12 (a nice homage to Radiant Dawn), chapter 15 (while I would have preferred getting a torch the chapter before or through a talk conversation with Maris, I think this is a fog of war chapter done pretty well), chapter 16 (really great finale to the Ava arc), and chapter 19 (I liked just about all the castle maps in this hack but I probably loved this one the most). While it may seem like I'm harsh on the game, I did in truth enjoy about 85-90% of the maps, which is a lot better than most of the other Fire Emblem games I've played.
One last thing about the final map:
Here are my thoughts about each individual playable unit:
I'm not gonna go on for too much longer since this is already long enough as it is, but god I love this hack to death. While I do concede that a lot of my love for this project stems from my nostalgia back in the game's early days, as well as there are improvements that can be made, I will never not love The Road to Ruin. Thank you Prime Fusion for all your dedicated, hard work throughout the years you spent on this project. I can't imagine how difficult it must be working on a project like this mostly alone, and the fact that you completed it is a remarkable achievement. While I understand if you can't or don't have the interest in it, I would love to see you work on other projects in the future. I would totally support you and even donate to you were that to happen. Cheers Prime, thank you so much.