Game Review #464: Regions of Ruin (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Jan 20
Reviewer: Akio Kahoshi
Developer: Vox Games
Category: Action, Platformer, Role-Playing
Release Date: 12.23.2019
Buy Regions of Ruin from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
And Then There Were Dwarves…
Regions of Ruin is set in a world where the monster races have wiped out humans and elves, leaving only dwarves scattered and fighting to survive. The player’s character founds a campsite in this desolate world, then travels the continent slaying goblins, orcs, and kobolds while freeing other dwarves. As a side-scrolling action RPG, there are also quest-givers and other NPCs to bring life to an otherwise desolate world.
The campsite is the main hub of the game, which is built up over the course of the game into a flourishing town with merchants, a force, a tavern, a library, and more. From here, the player travels to points across the continent, which first must be scouted by spending food to reveal the locations on the map. While initially, the scouting area is tiny, leaving travel options limited, the size can be upgraded.
Started From the Bottom...
Each point on the map is a location that can be conquered, either by defeating all the enemies (which accounts for most of the locations) or by completing certain quests. I did not notice any scaling with the enemies, so enemies that were difficult early in the game soon became trivial. While the main character does level up, the stat bonus provided is very minor in the long term. More important are the skills that are learned. Otherwise, gear is the most important method of character progression. Whenever I upgraded my weapon to a significantly more powerful one, enemies I struggled with would suddenly fall over.
That said, the majority of the difficulty is in the early to mid-game. Between drops and buying equipment from the shops, I was able to turn my dwarf into a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut, lobbing handaxes from across the screen to one-shot almost any enemy in the game. I never used the forge or runeforge to make equipment, and while the game lets you hire companions to assist you in battle, for my playstyle, they proved more a liability. While I was attempting to stealth closer to enemies, they would get spotted or run in and start attacking before I could line up a ranged attack.
If You Want Something Done Right...
For most of the game I was on mine own, stealthing around and one-shotting enemies with handaxes. I actually found this to be delightful, though in the more vertical zones the handaxe becomes useless, as it can only be thrown forward in an arc. In those cases, I was forced to run into melee and whack the enemies to death. The game does not have a designated health bar, instead having ever-worsening health statuses. The health statuses recover over time, but if any injuries are sustained, the max status that can be healed is lowered. The list of injuries the main character can sustain was actually impressive.
Audio & Video
The Regions of Ruin environments are lovely in their pixel designs, with a good variety of zones. My favorite being the caves, with their brightly-colored mushrooms. Each zone in the game is also clearly handcrafted, which makes each one feel unique, even as they use the same assets. Level design is definitely one of this game’s strongest suits. The music is also beautiful, and I am glad they did not limit themselves to retro style.
While primarily a combat-oriented game, the 12 main quest zones were actually puzzle/platforming focused. The game succeeds decently well at these, with the only real stumbling point being when the game used moving platforms. The player character does not move with them, which required constantly moving and jumping to keep from the platform moving away and causing me to fall. The puzzle parts were usually fairly simple, either requiring the player to find the right combination of runes displayed somewhere, or activating switches in a certain order to move the environment around. While these puzzle/platforming sections helped to break up the gameplay, I am glad they were not common.
Region of Bugs
While I enjoyed the game overall—especially once I could crit enemies for 1000 times their health—Regions of Ruin has many issues. A port of the original PC game, many of the game’s design choices were clearly optimized for a mouse and keyboard with controller support tacked on—I was even told to use the O key to reach a specific menu at one point. In combat, there were no issues, but in menus and the map, the controller felt awkward. I also encountered FPS drops, especially when there were many objects on the screen. This rarely happened during normal areas, but during the game’s siege-style zones with dozens of enemies and lots of materials on-screen, it became extremely noticeable.
I also encountered numerous bugs throughout the game. None of them were game-breaking, but they were frustrating. Early in the game as I desperately needed more settlers, two were killed in their cages by enemies. I could still talk to the corpses who thanked me for rescuing them but did not get them added to my worker count. Going up at the top or down at the bottom option in dialog moves the selection off into nonexistent lines instead of looping around. I also put some items into my storage and found everything in the bottom row could not be accessed. At its core, Regions of Ruin is a decently fun game, just one with lots of flaws. As is, I have trouble recommending the game, but perhaps with some bug fixes that opinion will change.
Buy Regions of Ruin from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
*A game code was provided for review purposes