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Bite Sized Reviews: Roots of Yggdrasil
Another review, oh yes! I hope everyone is having a pleasant month so far. February has been solid overall. I’ve been working on more reviews as well as my fantasy novel.
To long-term readers of my reviews, you will probably know I enjoy Early Access. I’m not sure why I like them so much, but it probably feeds my tinkering kinks. I love seeing how games develop over time, and if it means I can support a developer within reason, I’m all for that. Sure, the Early Access model has pitfalls and pressures to manage. Understandably, many people prefer to wait until a game is ‘fully complete’ before putting down hard-earned cash.
That line between incomplete and complete is pretty murky by today’s standards. Between a slew of buggy releases and live service games grabbing their slice of the consumer pie, we can’t ignore updates. I’ve always believed that ‘live service’ has extended across the entire gaming industry. Patches that offer fixes, new content and more come in thick and fast, ever-increasing in demand. It’s rare these days to see a game stand up and say “We’re stopping development on this one. Time for a new project.” People hate that, even when a game is complete. We always want more.
Apologies for the little ramble there — it’s just something I was thinking about while playing them. That brings me to Roots of Yggdrasil: an awesome-looking roguelike with real character. After a successful Kickstarter project, it launched in Early Access last month to impressive reviews. The developers ManaVoid Entertainment recently pushed a big bug fixing/QOL patch to the game. It feels like shoving Against the Storm and Islanders into a blender with some awesome Norse mythology. Now that’s one hell of a cool brew for a video game, but that’s the best way to describe Roots of Yggdrasil.
In ROY (Yes, I’m going to abbreviate it to this now. ROY also sounds funnier), Ragnarok is coming, and your happy little tribe is desperately trying to survive. Endlessly chased by an unstoppable darkness called the Ginnungagap, the clan throws itself into the struggle. This time loop is a great narrative to sell the roguelike parts of the game, with tons of unlocks and modifiers to increase replayability. In terms of immersion and gameplay, ROY gets top marks from me. Norse Mythology is awesome, and we need more games that explore it.
The gameplay loop is easy to learn, hard to master, and addictive. Like in Islanders, managing space is the main challenge, optimizing settlements for the best resource gain. To power the longship, your tribe’s mission is to complete a certain number of objectives. You’ll need seeds to power it, which are gathered by trees randomly scattered across the map. These trees require different objectives, such as several houses in its range, or offering tribute.
Otherwise, there are three resources to manage: tribute, military power, and belief. Tribe leaders (Scions) have different bonuses, such as unlocking a random new card every population milestone. With growing threats at every turn, it becomes a race against time to complete the island. With so many random events and procedural lands, ROY offers a ton of replayability. After every failed loop, return to the main island hub (called the Holt) and build up your settlement there. Like with other roguelikes, these upgrades unlock new powers and improvements for future runs.
For Early Access, I was impressed by the overall polish and content of Roots of Yggdrasil. The sheer amount of things to keep track of might look overwhelming, but the excellent tutorial made it so I never got stuck. Honestly, there aren’t many flaws. One stickler point was the saving system. While the game saves between missions, it cannot save during one. Some of these land maps can take a while to complete, especially in one sitting. I hope the developers consider adding the ability to save during a mission. A couple of times, I felt pressure to complete the land mission quickly, as I knew that leaving the game meant redoing the map. Lands do randomize every time, however, so playthroughs are varied enough to not feel monotonous.
Besides my issue with the saving mechanic, I left Roots of Yggdrasil feeling content. The combination of Norse lore, addictive gameplay and enough variance to make each playthrough interesting gives a great first impression. Provided the developers continue their strong start, I have high hopes for this. It deserves more attention and more reviews!
An addictive blend of deck-building and roguelike mechanics
Great visuals and lore that embrace Norse lore
Incredible price tag for what’s currently on offer
A ton of modifiers and different unlocks provide replayability. No two maps are the same, even on reloading the same event
A great start for an Early Access title
While I highly recommend Roots of Yggdrasil, keep in mind this is Early Access. Development has some way to go!
Currently no save feature while in a mission
There are a few bugs, but nothing of major note or concern in current build