Regions of Ruin is all about exploration. Spearheading the entire dwarven race on a quest to reclaim their lost lands and fortune, you’ll battle legions of orcs, wizards, and other mythical beasts. Don’t tackle more than you can handle though, as your rusty starter axe and leather hat aren’t going to do much against a formidable necromancer with a thirst for blood. Progressing gradually, and slowly expanding the dwarven empire is the name of the game in Regions of Ruin, where combat lies alongside town building and resource management to deliver a complete RPG package in all its pixelated glory.
A 2D side-scrolling adventure, Regions of Ruin brings as much depth as possible without sacrificing its minimalistic design. Containing relatively complex character stats to strategic raiding, the game gets quite immersive from the get-go. Instead of going the metroidvania route, Regions of Ruin is more like a full-length modern Oregon Trail complete with brutal battles, loads of loot, and minor questing. Central gameplay revolves around conquering enemy-controlled camps and locations in order to harvest their resources. The farther you travel from your cozy village, the stronger and more aggressive opponents get.
Combat itself is simple to control, but there’s a decent amount of content under the hood. Ranged attacks, stealth attacks, hiring mercenaries, dodging, parrying, and jumping all in real-time make battles interesting to say the least. There’s no shortage of strategy, as rushing in with your warhammer is just going to get yourself killed in an instant. Figuring out the best approach to disabling enemy defenses and keeping your equipment in top shape is the key to victory. It definitely took me a while to realize that Regions of Ruin is a difficult game. It’s deceptively simple-looking, as your character is severely underpowered most of the time. Utilizing the full range of combat techniques is the only way to stay alive.
Whenever a new location is cleared, you’ll often find an imprisoned dwarf to rescue and bring back to your town. All kinds of NPC characters will eventually inhabit your hamlet and offer different services to make your journey a bit easier. The medic dwarf is one I’m especially thankful for. These NPCs make a single-player experience feel alive, and it’s satisfying to watch the empire grow. Don’t mistake growth for a decrease in difficulty though. Regions of Ruin is hardcore from beginning to end, at least in terms of warfare. Your town is a representation of increasing wealth, and serves as a dwarven headquarters for recuperation between battles.
Although the game doesn’t stray too far from the typical RPG formula, there are a few tweaks and easter eggs that I enjoyed seeing. Instead of having a standard health bar, your avatar will rack up actual injuries that affect his ability to fight. They start off with minor lacerations and quickly escalate into crushed bones and uncontrollable bleeding. Also, the hired hands that join your team have very unique fighting styles from going invisible and stabbing opponents to death to rapidly firing axes in a flurry. Even the game’s art is unique from place to place, and keeps you pleasantly surprised.
It’s difficult to comprehend a 2D open-world game, but that’s exactly what Regions of Ruin is. It doesn’t have much repetition for something of the RPG variety. Understanding the game’s controls and UI takes a little longer than usual, but there’s nothing terrible here. With Regions of Ruin you get an authentic RPG experience, and there looks to be no shortage of content in the final build. As more gear, locations, enemies, NPCs, buildings, and quests are consistently added, Regions of Ruin is something to look out for.