Regions of Ruin from developer Vox is a solid RPG, littered with adventure and hordes of loot to keep you coming back. However, it lacks polish and whilst it is out of early access and in full release it is still missing key features.
You play as a dwarven adventurer tasked with rebuilding the might of the dwarven race after the world has been ravaged by goblins and kobolds. Regions of Ruin is light on story. There is a brief introduction and conclusion to provide the necessary context for the game. Beyond that, it offers little in the narrative department. There are small scraps of lore scattered around which can be obtained through NPC interactions or from reading books found on your adventures. This is not a criticism. I think this is very much the right approach to a game such as Regions of Ruin where it relies on its addictively simple gameplay.
The gameplay is the main concern in Regions of Ruin. It is a 2D RPG, and like most RPGs, you gain experience points for killing monsters. Once enough points have been accumulated, you can level up. When levelling up you can put a point into one of three attributes and gain a perk in one of four skill trees. You’ve seen it all before, there’s nothing particularly new here in terms of RPG mechanics. But if it’s not broke don’t fix it. The conventional levelling system doesn’t necessarily harm Regions of Ruin, it just fails to make it stand out.
In keeping with RPG tradition, Regions of Ruin also bombards the players with loot. The loot system is closest to that of Diablo 3’s or Borderlands’ where chests explode with huge hauls of items and different colours denote the rarity of a particular item. Seeking more powerful weapons and armour is an addictive hook that kept me invested in the game. Combine this with gaining new abilities, exploring new regions, and upgrading the town and you’ve got the foundation for a solid RPG. Yet, the game succumbs to repetitiveness. Collecting loot for its own sake soon becomes tiring. Although Regions of Ruin has plenty of content, much of it is uninteresting as many environments are clones of another. The different climates found throughout the game are not enough to combat this issue.
Your settlement also becomes a major part of the gameplay. You begin with a lonely campfire, but soon enough you erect all manner of buildings from taverns to trade depots. As your settlements grows, you’ll acquire new abilities and gain additional workers. Workers can be sent to a region to farm resources. Resources are integral to Regions of Ruin. You’ll need them not only to create and upgrade buildings but also for crafting healing potions and exploring new areas. Resources can be found in the environment and can be collected by the player, this will be your initial method of acquisition, which is quite slow. But as you gain more workers, it doesn’t take long to scour each region.
It is not only collecting resources that is slow at the beginning. The entire game starts at a sluggish pace, potentially putting off less patient players. Again, this is not a criticism, more of a warning about what you’ll be getting. Given your weakness at the start, it can be difficult to get going as enemies hit hard and take many hits to slay. Thankfully, the difficulty can be adjusted any time from the menu if you are having a tough time. It won’t take long to settle into your chosen difficulty. Regardless of what difficulty you play on, there will be challenging, high level monsters lurking. Unfortunately, many of these monsters do not present a fair fight. Often, high level fights consist of a ceaseless storm of projectiles, which soon gets frustrating as it feels unduly punishing and simply unfair.
There are a number of smaller problems facing Regions of Ruin. Firstly, it states on the Steam page that controller support is limited. This is true. If you play with a controller, as I did then be prepared to have your keyboard nearby. The game is perfectly playable with a controller, but some menus do not function properly with it. The menus in general are cumbersome. Starting out, most players will likely struggle to navigate the menus, especially with a controller. Even after many hours, it is hard to find your way around them.
Another issue is achievement support. Achievements have no bearing on the quality of a game. However, in Regions of Ruin, there are currently no obtainable achievements, even though there is an achievement list and that achievements are listed as a feature on the Steam page. It occurred to me that I had no achievements in the game. It seemed odd to me. I initially thought that they were obscenely difficult, but even then, I would surely have unlocked at least one. After a little digging I discovered that support for achievements had not yet been added. Vox releases weekly updates for the game and I’m sure that issues such as these will be fixed soon. But to advertise the game as being in full release seems dishonest to me when simple features like this are still missing.
The game’s lack of polish becomes apparent through many minor bugs. On more than one occasion items flung from chests got trapped in the environment and I was unable to collect them. There is also a fair bit of Platforming to be done in Regions of Ruin, but thanks to what I presume to be a bug where you can briefly stand in parts of the environment allowing for an additional jump, the challenge is removed from many Platforming sections. Many vertical towers can be scaled this way by mashing the jump button. A minigame is also available in the tavern, through this, players can gain new abilities. However, it is meaningless and unengaging, having more in common with mobile games such as Cookie Clicker than any classic minigame from other RPGs like the Witcher 3’s Gwent or Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad.
Regions of Ruin is a solid RPG, perhaps even having the makings of a good one. This indie title will satisfy RPG fans. It presents plenty of content and tonnes of loot to wade through, keeping the player enticed. However, its shortcomings are like those of most indie titles, a distinct lack of polish and repetitive content. I have hope that many of the minor issues will be remedied in the coming weeks, so players should look forward to an ever-improving game.
- Huge map with many levels
- Satisfying RPG progression
- Collecting loot is addictive
- Lacks polish with numerous minor bugs
- No achievements and limited controller support
- Levels get repetitive quickly
- High level fights feel cheap