RydenWood is a little game released around Christmas 2019 by JustWall Games. It’s a simple RPG where you walk around a vast world, fight enemies and battle your way through dungeons. The overall goal is to beat all the dungeons, find some rare items and explore the world. In this post I’m doing a double feature where I’ll talk about both RydenWood and the new sequel; RydenWood: Deeper Than Before.

I’m not generally into RPGs so complex interfaces can be very daunting and offputting for me. I barely know the difference between HP and MP, let alone anything else. Generally I end up fumbling my way through RPG style games and make everything much harder for myself by not knowing what I’m doing. RydenWood strips away all of the complexity and doesn’t even require you to actively attack. You attack enemies by standing in close proximity to them and it’s basically a dice roll to determine if you hit them or not. They can also randomly attack you and move towards you in random intervals. They sometimes slowly step towards you, or they can zip towards you quite quickly if the random chance permits, so it keeps you on your toes.

Fighting off monsters in the dungeon

You start out in your little village area where you can choose your hero, save the game, deposit coins in the bank or upgrade your coin carrying capacity. You spend a lot of the early game level grinding and collecting coins. Once you get to a high enough level and start visiting dungeons, the amount of coins the enemies drop increases quite a lot so you end up not being able to take them all home – this is why it’s a good idea to upgrade the carry capacity. The higher your capacity, the more loot you cant take home and the faster you can upgrade your carry capacity!

Dungeons are generally very full of tougher enemies than the usual foes scattered around the woods. It’s easy to get swamped with them in these enclosed situations, but you can hit space to use your special attack, which has a wide area of effect. Enemies will randomly respawn as well, so sometimes you’re fighting them off and one will spawn right behind you, trapping you – this is also a great time to use your special attack. Once you’ve used it, you have to wait for your special meter to fill back up again to use it again.

To keep you going, enemies will randomly drop health potions which you can use by tapping Q. You can carry 10 of them and they’re dropped very liberally so you should always have a good supply. There’s also chests scattered around the world with loot in them. This gets you hunting all around the corners of the map for extra coins. I also really liked that when you go into water your character gets a little sail boat to ride around in.

Sailing the high seas

To get around the world, you’ll need to unlock locks which require a certain number of coins. To get the amount of coins required, you’ll probably want to upgrade your coin carry capacity to make grinding dungeons for coins more efficient. So the core gameplay loop usually involves going to dungeons, hacking apart a load of enemies and heading back to the bank to drop off your coins. Here’s a little exploit to make it a bit easier in the early game; stand in the safety of your village and enemies will spawn – you can kill them through the walls without any risk of getting hit and gain experience and coins whilst you’re not even playing the game! The gameplay loop, although seemingly quite repetitive, actually feels very addictive. Each time you go back to a dungeon you can leave with more loot, your level is higher so you can kill the enemies quicker and you get to go back and upgrade your coin carry capacity, which means you can leave with even more loot!

This game is quite bare bones, but it was made over the course of something like 9 days so the amount of gameplay is really impressive. The simplicity is also far from a bad thing, anyone can just jump right in and play. You can hold down ESC to view the controls and how to play and hold down M to view the map. There’s no pausing or options or anything like that. There is an absolutely huge world to explore in this game, it’s super easy to get into and as I mentioned before, it’s got an addictive gameplay loop. I picked it up after 3 months of not playing and was able to pick it up again no problem at all!

RydenWood: Deeper Than Before

RydenWood has now got a sequel – RydenWood: Deeper Than Before. It brings some more involved game mechanics to the table and it’s a lot less grind-y than the previous game. The huge change here is that the levels are randomly generated each game, so everyone’s game experience will be different! There’s also a cute story, some bosses to defeat and many more rare items to discover!

Many new biomes to visit – here I’m on the border between swamp land and mountains

This time around, the game mechanics are more involved – you don’t auto-attack anymore, instead you direct your attacks in one of four directions. You get to spend skill points in different areas, getting an extra skill point to spend each time you level up. Alternatively, you can redistribute points however you like if your current setup isn’t working for you. There’s also an option to use magic attacks as well as regular attacks. You can choose from different weapons and magic spells, but these are just visual changes. It’s a nice touch regardless and there’s a wide variety of heroes you can choose from. Don’t worry if you grow tired of them, because you can swap them out whenever you level up.

Now that you are able to spend skill points in different areas, you can employ a bit more strategy than you could in the last game. You can add points to gain additional HP, additional attack strength or you can invest your points in magic. You again get a special magic attack with a wide area of effect, but you have to be careful now because some of the enemies have the same ability! Some of the enemies also hurl rocks or other projectiles at you that you have to avoid. There’s also MP potions as well as HP potions. Your MP doesn’t auto-regenerate like in the last game so you’ll need these to keep your special attack usable.

One sad loss from the previous game is that you no longer get your sail boat when entering water – you have to slowly wade through it until you can save up and purchase some water boots to increase your speed. On that note, there is a shop in this game! You can purchase a few different upgrades such as a map. There’s also potions and keys for sale – the keys are used to unlock rooms containing special chests.

Because the world is randomly generated, there are now different biomes with elemental enemies. Some of these enemies are really, really tough and when I started my first game, I spawned right next to a lava biome. I’ve been told these are home to the second toughest enemies in the game, so naturally I got beaten senseless by the fire enemies. I recommend sticking to the woods and killing the defenseless woodland creatures when you start the game or you might find yourself having a hard time!

The dungeons are tough to beat but you’re rewarded with some rare treasures at the end

I started the game out grinding levels and collecting coins to save up for the map. Once I got the map, I started travelling village to village seeing what I could find. I visited a cavern to see what the dungeons were like and it was full of angry gorillas who were way too tough for me to fight, so I ran away from that for now.

This game does remove a little ‘exploit’ from the last game where you can attack through walls. I won’t lie; I used that pretty liberally until the later dungeons which are designed to stop that. There’s a little trick you can use in this game though, you can stand on the other side of a river and most enemies can’t cross the river, so they just stupidly stand there getting hit by your attacks. Beware though, some of the enemies shoot projectiles back. You also have to be careful not to be too close to an ocean, because the ocean enemies won’t hesitate to ruin your day and they’re apparently amphibious too!

The RydenWood games are both great games (and free!) and they are different enough to be worth trying both out! They both have a dark aesthetic with a dark black forest floor which looks great and there’s some nice old school chunky pixel graphics. They’re super simple to get into and I have already sunk a lot of time into these games, so if you’re looking for something to fill your time whilst you’re stuck in quarantine, these might be your thing!

Also, important note – RydenWood 2 has a dedicated flatulance button.