By Andrew Skelton (Outfoxed)
Kingdom and Kingdom: New Lands are a special kind of game to me. They’re beautifully simplistic by design, but massively complex by nature. So when Regions of Ruin was announced as adding open world RPG content to the formula, as well as skill-based combat, you better believe I was intrigued and I was happy to review the game when the opportunity arose. It’s actually taken me a while to do a cohesive preview, since the game has had a significant amount of polish between its first foray into Early Access to present day, so please, join me on a trek to reclaim the land in the name of the dwarves you lead.
My Kingdom for a Wagon
After learning about the horrible fate of the land, your lone dwarf runs across a caravan master with a broken wagon. This is where the tutorial begins, and you’re guided towards learning how to interact with objects, how to equip yourself with weapons and armor, and how to dispatch enemies. That’s right, unlike Kingdom, you are responsible for most of the combat that takes place. You can also sneak attack monsters which does massive damage,
You’re also introduced to the second part of the game: resource collection and management. In order to fix the wagon, you collect wood. Once you return to the caravan, you’re off to your main encampment, which serves as the hub for most activity in the game.
The main camp starts with nothing more than a campfire. A few NPCs are already there, and you’ll pick up your first quests of the game. Most of the quests I encountered were either to rescue a fellow dwarf or drive off some sort of goblin/kobold/orc/troll mob terrorizing the countryside. You can also develop the camp further with various upgrades such as storage, a smithy, a tavern, and more. Each building has a variety of benefits, such as crafting new weapons and armor at the blacksmith, or getting coins and recruiting followers at the tavern. All of the buildings can be upgraded for increased effect, too.
Once the handy townsfolk told me where to find some resources (after all, a camp needs things like lumber and stone to grow, right?) it was off to the map screen. Initially, your sphere of travel is limited, but by spending food, you can increase where you can travel by scouting out the land. The map didn’t seem like much to me, at first, until you realize how little you reveal with every search. What seems like a small and simple game suddenly gets a whole lot more expansive when you get an idea of how large its world is.
Control-nan the Barbarian
While it can be played a variety of different ways, Regions of Ruin was very much designed for keyboard-only gameplay. In fact, controller support is very rudimentary and may as well be non-existent. That’s one of the major problems I have with the game currently — the game feels like it would play amazingly using a controller, but it’s simply just not feasible. Still, the keyboard controls for movement and interaction and accessing the various menus like inventory or the map are intuitive enough. Where it becomes a lot more muddy is when it comes to the combat controls. If we’re going off of default schemes, left arrow is your basic attack, while right arrow is your power attack. Up arrow is throwing weapons, and down arrow is block.
My problem with the scheme is likely just a mental thing, I’ll admit. When I’m facing left, my brain wanted left arrow to be the basic attack, but when facing right, which you are for a lot of the game, I kept expecting right arrow to be such. Using W for jump when most games use spacebar also took a lot of practice to get used to. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to get used to, but again, I really wish there was full-fledged controller support for this title.
Skills to Pay the Builds
As you slay enemies and complete quests, your head dwarf levels up. Every level (that I found at least) gives you one stat point and one skill point to assign. Your three stats are strength, dexterity, and constitution. At the most simple level, these stats do exactly what you think: Strength increases your damage; Dexterity increases your critical hit rate; and Constitution increases your health. Skills are much more diverse, because you have four different skill lines you can invest in, and they have a lot more skills in them than the simplicity of three stats. For example, learning skills from the block tree will obviously help you block better, but you can also unlock the ability to shield bash enemies from it, for instance. Some of the skills are quite game-changing too; triple strike from the Quick Attack tree, for example, was so good that it had to have its damage lowered in a later build.
You’ll also gain a variety of equipment as you play. In addition to your weapon, you’ll also have armor, a helmet, a shield, a ring, and an amulet. Even basic equipment can spawn with a variety of modifiers, like boosts to damage or defense. Magical items are denoted by their color, familiar to most who have played most MMOs (green for uncommon, blue for rare, etc). Weapons also have different effects depending on their type. Swords tend to deal less damage, but have a higher critical hit rate and greater critical damage. Hammers punch through enemy armor with ease, dealing more damage to those types of foes. While it can be useful to have multiple weapon types available, it’s nice there’s such a variety.
So, having said how much of a fan of Kingdom I am, does Regions of Ruin compare? Well, yes and no. It definitely captures the aesthetic, and thematically it’s very similar. However, Kingdom’s strength was its simplicity. Regions of Ruin definitely adds a lot to the formula, but falls short in several ways. It may have just been the amount I played, but I never once had my encampment attacked by angry hordes of nightmare creatures. Kingdom management meant paying coins to upgrade and letting the workers do their thing, rather than Region’s method of gathering tons of materials and sending out workers to gather more. You didn’t even do the fighting in Kingdom, instead relying on your archers to defend your walls.
That being said, I keep finding myself coming back to play Regions of Ruin because it has that certain addictive flavor. I wanted to explore more, find more dungeons and camps and strange forests and caves. I wanted to see if I could take down a troll with the limited, less-than-optimal equipment I had. I wanted to learn the lore by finding the journal pages scattered across the land. That’s one thing Regions of Ruin does very well, in fact: it makes you want to play just a little longer.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.
Regions of Ruin Screenshots: