A Story Of Destruction
Ruinarch is a strategy game which takes place in fantasy setting whereby the story develops based on actions taken by the overlord against a randomly created fantasy village. The outcome, and how you get there will be different with each playthrough. The game begins after a village complete with inhabitants is generated. As the evil overlord, it is the player's job to cause as much mayhem as possible with the goal to destroy the villagers and the village itself. This task can be completed in various ways which I will try to explain below, so stay with me.
How Can I Destroy You, Let Me Count The Ways.
After playing through the rather helpful tutorial - which points out the important aspects of the game - you move on to choose the type of evil overlord you want to be. This consists of picking different types of destruction-causing abilities and spells, such as summoning up a meteor strike that can destroy part of the map. If the poison spell is possessed and an area of the map is poisoned then a meteor hit will magnify the destruction. Other actions can cause a person to do devious misdeeds on the overlords behalf. Players can also cause mayhem in a not-so-direct manner; there are magical spells that can turn people into werewolves, trolls, dragons, vampires or other various monsters who will then attack people or attempt to kidnap them. Also, plagues can be started by infecting just one person (COVID-19, anyone?). When the plague-ravaged deceased person is picked up by another person for burial then the plague is passed on. Just make sure the healer is killed off before this tactic is attempted because those infected will be healed. If a persons mate or friend dies that person could experience an emotional episode that could make them want to harm other villagers or themselves. Virtually anything is possible.
Is It Natural To Destroy Everything?
There's just so much in the game that it would take a novel to explain it all. I found the most fun related to the personality traits that the villagers possess. These can be manipulated in order to effect the villager and his neighbors. An example of this would be to move an item from one villager's house and place it in his neighbors home. When the person discovers his missing item is in his neighbors house it might cause him to think his neighbor took it. This could cause trouble to erupt and that's what you want to happen. If the neighbor has a devious trait he might destroy the item before his neighbor finds out he is the culprit. However, if people with the suspicion trait suspect that an action or disaster is not a natural occurrence, it could cause them to form a war party to attack the overlord. You don't want that to happen so gamers need to be careful not to do too many overt actions. Since every action that the overlord takes uses chaotic energy or mana its important to replenish it often. Villager deaths emit chaotic energy and it has to be collected as soon as possible or your evil death dealing overlord career will come to an abrupt end. Some people might have the blessed trait and you need to be aware that some magic actions against them won't work.
What Does Destruction Look Like?
The playing field is pretty much a basic top down view from above - think the original Civilization from the 1990's. It's not graphically intensive but it is sufficient enough to be able to see and know whats happening. This certainly helps gamers with a less than new PC to play. But, that is part of what gives this game its charm. it's all about how the villagers act based on their personal traits and what is being done to them. Once I was playing, I found myself fully immersed in being the overlord and trying to destroy the village and those inside. The game is well presented, with all of the required information shown upon hovering the mouse over things in the game. Click on a person and a dialogue box opens showing their traits, friends and enemies and other information about them. This game is information intensive in that you need to know what will work and what won't. In that regard the graphics aren't all that important but they do work out nicely none the less.
I Think I Have Been Destroyed Myself.
Well, actually I was destroyed but in a good way. Ruinarch has such depth, imagination and replay-ability that it's simply amazing - If I happened to lose a scenario, I was immediately encouraged to try again. If when I won, then I dived right back in because the next experience would be a totally different experience due to the nature of the villagers and the special abilities chosen. Not one game will ever be exactly the same. Since Ruinarch is presently in Early Access we can be sure that even more evil mayhem will be present come full release time in 2021. The developers are promising more content in the future and I suspect that they won't disappoint. When looking at what they already have given us, I'm thinking that we can expect to be occupied, entertained and maybe even destroyed over and over again!
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A lot of depth with a very well developed story telling system that piques the imagination. Excellent AI that will cause unexpected character actions.
The graphics could probably be improved a bit for those that aren't inclined to play games with rather crude visuals reminiscent of titles from the last century