Rotwood is an indie hack-and-slash game trending on Early Access, and it's well worth all the hype

Don't Starve creators Klei Entertainment seems to have put out another excellent title with Rotwood.

Rotwood allows you to hack and slash your way through the forest of corrupted plants with your friends. (Photo: Klei Entertainment)
Rotwood allows you to hack and slash your way through the forest of corrupted plants with your friends. (Photo: Klei Entertainment)

Sometimes a good ol' hack-and-slash game is all you need to have fun — and one such game has been gaining popularity since its release last week.

Rotwood is a new trending roguelite dungeon crawler by Klei Entertainment, the creators of Don’t Starve. When it was first introduced to me by a friend, I didn't think much of it. But after playing for a few hours, I can see what the hype is all about.

There really isn’t much of a story except that you’re fighting off monsters in a forest full of corrupted plants and animals to clear it for everyone following after you to traverse it safely.

There may be hints here and there, but in this particular case, the focus is the dungeon-crawling more than anything.

It throws you right into action, where you interact with only one NPC who barely covers the controls before you enter a clearing where you fight monsters in the forest, loot, and upgrade your gear.

The game reminds me of other popular dungeon crawlers like Cult of the Lamb (without the cult management bit, thankfully) and a slower-paced version of Hades, where you get stronger and better each run. In Rotwood, you can use the resources you’ve gathered from the previous run to upgrade your armour and weapons and run through the map once again.

Rotwood’s gameplay is similar to many dungeon crawlers like it. You start with one area, and once you clear it, you gain rewards in the form of in-game currency, power-ups, or materials. Then another area (or two) opens up and whichever next area you choose may have more enemies, shops, random encounters, and boss fights.

To clear an entire area, you have to beat a miniboss and a main boss without dying. This can be difficult especially since you only have one potion to spend per run, unless you run into the potion shopkeeper.

Defeating enemies isn’t too punishing though, but clearing areas become more difficult as you progress.

Boss fights are particularly satisfying as their attack patterns are in sync with the music and make clever use of the entire area. Each one felt like an intricate dance you’d need to learn on the spot so you can clear the dungeon.

A unique feature of this game is the multiplayer feature. The game allows you to play with 1-3 other players by hosting a lobby, joining a friend's run, or randomly joining a team through matchmaking.

This can be fun when you clear more difficult areas with ease. However, it could also pose a challenge, once someone buys a “power-up” that launches random bombs around that can prove difficult in a boss fight.

Playing in a random lobby also gets frustrating when someone goes AFK because the rest of the players won’t be able to leave an area if one player doesn’t move to the exit that everyone is at.

What makes me keep going back for more despite failing multiple times is the challenge, and the opportunity to upgrade and beat the area or the boss again next time.

Replayability is also high since each area is assigned to you at random, and there are different character classes to try, weapons to choose according to your favourite playstyle and armour to upgrade after each successful or failed run.

Despite being in Early Access, Rotwood remains engaging due to its replayability, providing a satisfying challenge that keeps players invested.

With approximately 20-30 hours of gameplay and mastery, the current version offers four distinct biomes, each with their own mini-bosses, bosses, and four weapon classes.

Looking ahead, the developers have indicated plans to introduce more content over the next 1-2 years, potentially including additional weapons, features, character classes, and even biomes.

In its Early Access phase, Rotwood presents an enticing mix of challenge and reward, encouraging players to hone their skills and dive into numerous adventures within its dynamic forest setting.

With ongoing updates planned, Rotwood underscores the enduring allure of the roguelite genre, offering players the prospect of ongoing excitement and exploration with each venture into its world.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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