Regions of Ruin – A Game Review by Joseph Phelps

Regions of Ruin is a rogue-like town builder/brawler from developers Vox Games and Gameclaw Studios, and publishers Poysky Productions, JanduSoft, and again Gameclaw Studios. Lots of work went into this strange little beautiful game, and it shows.

So the whole thing is Dwarves and I love me some classic Dwarven storytelling. This has a gorgeous pixel based Bob Ross background in every screen, with loads of soothing beautiful nature to stare at while you unleash your inner Dwarf and fight some goblin-folk. I can’t say enough good things about the music either, it’s fantastic. The swells of horns and clash of cymbals will march alongside you into battle, or inspire you as you labor to build a better world with your own calloused hands and the aid of your kin. The Dwarves in this are everything I love about Dwarf stories. Stoic, merry, beleaguered but not beaten, industrious, hardy, clever, drunk, horrifically violent, and deeply noble.

The story starts you off having just emerged from ages locked away underground. A dwarven civilization retreated under their mountains in disgust of the rest of the world. Once they decided, as a race, to rejoin the surface, they discovered it had been overrun and populated by monsters. Goblin-kind rules, and reacts to the Dwarves emergence with a declared genocide. But we Dwarves are not concerned with that, that’s just what goblins do. We’ll simply do what dwarves do.

The gameplay centers around this town you’re trying to build. It starts off as a camp to roave from while you adventure and rid the surrounding area of goblins with an axe. But the more you bring in stray Dwarves to your camp, the more it starts to resemble a town. And perhaps more in the future, I’m not all that far in yet. It wasn’t difficult to identify the core gameplay loop and fall in love enough to write it up. The story is perfectly Dwarven and engaging, and told mostly through exploration of the very fun map. I love exploring the map, and going to new places is always exciting. You get a series of quests that send you to points of interest on the map, and once you arrive the combat portion begins.

Combat is hectic and often difficult to fully understand what’s going on visually, at the point I’ve gotten to. I have a swarm of allies at this point and I often just wade into the sea of beards and axes, swinging away. It started off with just me, but I keep meeting these awesome Dwarves in the tavern I built and hiring them to come adventure with me. My hired-allies addiction began with just me and one shockingly stabby fellow with a cloak and dead eyes, but soon we added two lazy wizards and a cadre of others followed. Now there’s a whole back row hurling axes, loosing arrows, weaving mean spirited magics, and spitting insults at the green-skins, while a murder orgy of axes, knives, shields, and gleaming armor demarcates the latest enemy to be rolled over. Once you clear out a location, it becomes available as resources for your workers to bring back to camp and build it up with. They gather lumber, stone, cotton, leather, food, coal, and ores. Then you upgrade the town as much as you can and get new rewards like improved merchants or craftsmen. I love the gameplay loop, it’s very satisfying.

Rogue-like usually requires death to grow, and this one makes you reload a save upon death so it’s a little odd to identify it as roguelike. The real death punishment for me is losing team mates. I’ve always managed to overcome it and replace all who fall with eager and willing new recruits, but I miss them when they go. My crazy stabby friend died fighting an Orc King, it was a mighty battle and his mighty crit ability surely won us the day. This game is really good at telling these little micro stories with their characters if you choose to invest in them at that level, and I adore that manner of storytelling. It’s so organic and delightful to uncover. Every inch of this game screams of dwarven style, and it’s easy to pick up and enjoy for fifteen minutes at a time, or the occasional four hour session.

I highly recommend this gaming experience.

Joseph Phelps is a gamer and a writer. Like his reviews? Check out his books, they’re people in games kicking butts and taking names.

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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