Villordsuch is testing Ruggnar on the Nintendo Switch…
Rugnar, new from PID Games and developers Swords N’ Wands, will no doubt have many dwarves laying down their pickaxes and writing angry letters to those responsible for its release. A dwarf’s life isn’t all about gold and a beard, you know!? They also like Mithril and beer!
Rugnar, on paper and from the intro trailer, seemed to have the ingredients to be a fantastic game, and I was smitten with what was to come on my Nintendo Switch (also available for Windows PC). Here is a new title, with dashes of Sperlunaire, but with the unique touch of zero enemies to find. The only major concern involves things like axes, lava pits, arrow traps, fireballs, and oh and dark. Permanent darkness!
The world of Rugnar is a simple affair, walk through the darkness with a candle on your helmet, collect gold coins, hidden objects, find a key and escape the cave or room you are in. From time to time, you’ll run into a merchant to buy cosmetic items to make Ruggnar the dappest dwarf in the dungeon, enchantments to help you on your journeys, and more candles.
All of the above sounds just awesome, heck they even brought in the vocal talents of Pierre-Alain de Garrigues (Foyer, Heroes of the Storm as well as many other video game characters) and Jordan Harrelson (My time at Portia, edge of eternity), to push the adventure, but all is not well in the gold mines.
The biggest problem is that the darkness is not imposing at all. “Are you out of candles?” Well, that’s not a major issue, you can still go through each level without any real anxiety or stress. You have the ability to save your progress and your hoarded gold is severely limited; that and your ability to see a little farther is gone because not only can you no longer throw a candle in the dark and hope it lands on something solid, but your field of vision is also slightly shorter. Considering “being in the dark” is one of the main things in this game, it really doesn’t seem like a real problem. I’ve played games in the past where when your light source is off it causes cold sweats. Here it’s a minor irritation as you know poor Ruggnar will still stumble a few times picking up the scattered gold coins.
Which brings me to the other complaint that really stuck in my throat. Obviously, PID Games and developers Swords N’ Wands are looking to finalists here, as the coins are totaled and there are hidden items in the level. However, if you die and failed to land a candlestick save point, you will lose all coins collected so far. There’s a big trick missing here, because where you die, your tombstone is left behind. Personally, I would have thought returning to the tombstone would reward you with all the coins and items collected in the past. No. Instead, your death marker sits there, taking up space. Somewhat unnecessary. Now go find everything you’ve collected throughout the mine…again.
Which brings me to cosmetic items, dyes and other stuff. I completely understand the need for enhanced candle abilities, but when Ruggnar is so small, does the color of his beard really matter or does he get a new helmet? It might seem petty to choose cosmetic items, but when you’ve stumbled across a number of lightly shaded caves, you start to think, “You could have spent more time sorting…”.
Rugnar should be shiny. This should scare you because your last candle is extinguished when you accidentally trotted under a waterfall, but it doesn’t. You should be holding your bag of gold, sweating and swearing, wishing you had bought one more candle instead of that shiny brass helmet. However, it feels like you’ve just turned the brightness down a bit and instead of enjoying what PID Games and developers Swords N’ Wands have delivered, you’re just heading for the exit as soon as you find the key; coins and candles be cursed. Too bad really. There’s a good game here, it’s just marred by bad choices dropped in the game. If there’s a Rugnar 2 in the near future, I hope the above probabilities can be examined.
- The central idea of the game is brilliant
- Voice talents can bring out a surprising smile while you play
- Simple enough to pick up and play with nothing too complicated to learn
- No real anxiety about running out of candles
- The central idea of the game is not used to its full potential
- Unnecessary cosmetic system
Ruggnar is available now for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.