I don’t typically do impression posts as I prefer passing judgement on a game after I’ve played it in full, but I was recently hit up by MagiWasTaken to do a collaboration style post. You see he’s been following the development of a game called Ring of Pain for quite some time and asked if both myself and Quietschisto would be interested in playing the most recent demo for the game and posting our impressions. So that’s what this is. You can check-out Magi’s post here and Quietshisto’s post here. I don’t know what either has written, but am interested to know how their thoughts compare to my own. I’d recommend checking out their posts once you finish reading mine.
Okay with that out of the way let’s dive in.
Firstly what is Ring of Pain? It’s a dungeon crawling rogue-like being made by Twice Different. There’s also a bit of a card game flavor present. Instead of navigating dungeons room by room, you’re presented a ring of cards which are used as an abstraction for the exploration. You’ll either dispatch foes, or sneak past them as you search for stat boosts and equipment to help you delve further into the dungeon. It’s pretty standard dungeon crawling fair, but the aesthetic choice of having the whole thing represented by cards gives Ring of Pain its own unique twist.
So is it any good?
What’s on display is a bit limited as you’ll likely see everything on offer after a handful of runs, but there is a lot of potential to build on. Trying to work out what risks are worth taking and how best to move through each floor is quite enjoyable. Which path should I take? Should I try to sneak by these enemies? Should I use this healing flask now or save it for later? Which of these pieces of equipment will serve me better in the long run? You’ll be constantly asking yourself questions like these and having to make meaningful decisions on the best course of action.
On top of that I really dig the art-style. It’s a bit jarring at first, but goes a long way in making it feel as though you’re exploring some kind of hellscape rather than merely staring at a ring of cards. Plus, the card designs themselves are fairly slick and use some great colour-coding to visually communicate to the player, which I’m always a big fan of.
The only negative thing I have to say is that there wasn’t a whole lot of variety in what I saw. However, given that I was playing a demo I don’t necessarily think that’s a wholly fair criticism. According to the game’s Steam page it is planned for an Early Access launch sometime this year1, and it stands to reason that it will launch with a greater variety of enemies and equipment than what was present in the demo. With a gameplay loop that necessitate repeated playthroughs and experimentation I’d like to see a lot more variety in terms of the synergy options available between equipment and a more diverse case of enemies (both mechanically and visually). Hopefully the demo was just a teaser of more to come.
Overall I walked away from Ring of Pain’s demo fairly optimistic. Normally I’m put off by demos, but here I’m quite interested to see how things progress. Twice Different have themselves a game that is simple to come to grasps with, but also has a lot of potential for depth. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.
If you’re interested in trying the demo yourself you can check out the developer’s discord server and download it from there. It’s short, but gives a taste of what the team is going for.
1: At the time of writing Ring of Pain was planning to enter early access, but the development team has since decided that a full release later in the year is the better approach for them.