In the aftermath of the apocalyptic events of Ragnarök, a group of survivors travel endlessly through the branches of the great World Tree, Yggdrasil, in loops, hoping to end the devastation wrought by the fates. That’s the premise of Roots of Yggdrasil coming to early access from ManaVoid Entertainment. In this deck-building roguelike game, you have to explore islands, create settlements, gather supplies, and collect fuel from the saplings of Yggdrasil.
Your goal as a crew is to reach the top of the World Tree and enter Gimle, where Norse myth says that survivors of Ragnarök would reside after the end of the world. To do this, you have to climb the tree, choosing which encounters you will face before reaching an island to collect cards and fuel. Each encounter and island costs time. You only have so much time in each loop, and the quicker you can complete your goal on each island and leave, the more time you are left with.
If you spend too long on an island before completing your objectives, the Ginnungagap will spawn and eventually consume everything in its path. According to mythology, the Ginnungagap is the primordial and magickal void, an all-consuming abyss that comes to swallow the Nine Realms. However, have no fear brave Vikings, being consumed by the Ginnungagap is not the end. Instead, you will return to The Holt, your base of operations that houses various buildings that will help you upgrade between loops.
Roots of Yggdrasil Embraces Its Mythological Roots
The workshop will allow you to spend blueprints you find on your travels to create building cards. These cards can be used at The Holt to give your loops bonuses like increased starting population, supplies, or might. There’s also a greenhouse where you can use various types of acorns you find on your travels to upgrade your skill tree (the roots of Yggdrasil). There are several types of acorns to collect, and each island will tell you which is available there when you check their information on the map. Not all upgrades are available in the early access version, hinting at more to come. There’s also a statue on The Holt that says it will save your progression, but currently only seems to display the games’ credits.
Needless to say, the more you upgrade The Holt and stack up some bonuses, the better and easier the start of your next loop will be. Now, let’s get into what is involved in a loop. Before you leave The Holt set your lead Scion, there’s currently only two but each has different advantages. At the start of each loop, your first encounter will be with The Norns, a trio of Jotun giantesses who nurture the roots of Yggdrasil. In this meeting, you can choose between three artifacts that will offer you some kind of boon. After this encounter, hold on tight, Spider Monkey. It’s time to scale the branches of Yggdrasil.
There are currently a few types of encounters on the map apart from the main islands. You can choose to acquire an artifact, discard a card from your deck, or do a quick exploration and see what you find. Again, each of these costs time, so keep an eye on how much you have. If you are running low, the Ginnungagap will begin to creep up the map and cause you to incur curse cards that uselessly inflate your deck.
I Wish There Was More To Do in Roots of Yggdrasil
Once you choose an island, it’s time to start building up your settlement. All your cards cost varying supplies to build and will increase different resources. For example, house cards are infinite and increase your population, but their cost increases with each use. Barracks are a might card and increase the amount of might you generate, but they have to be placed in the range of at least three houses. There are various cards for each resource you collect during adventures and events on the island. One of the first things you must do is gather enough might to explore and open up paths.
Each island is broken up with floating fragments housing the saplings of Yggdrasil. Once you have forged the path to the saplings, they will have certain requirements before they can bloom and produce Eitr, the power source you require. You can also mine iron and cut down trees for supplies. Roots of Yggdrasil is basically a cyclical micro cosm builder that gets easier the more you play. I’ve played it for eleven hours, even though I am 100% sure I exhausted all the currently available content long before that. It’s fun to build tiny houses.
The game isn’t without its faults, though. It is in early access, after all. My main issue is that you need to let me rotate buildings. You see, houses all spawn in a different shape when you play a card. My camps are lumpy. Why have you made me have lumpy camps? Let me rotate the buildings ManaVoid Entertainment. I know that creating the perfect little Viking settlement is both not the point and also probably not accurate to actual settlements, but let me rotate the things. I MUST TESSELATE. That’s genuinely my only gripe about the gameplay. (*see edit at the end for a fun update on how dumb I am at games.)
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t encounter any bugs. That was until I reached roughly the end of the available content. Then I would get the occasional soft lock, mostly it revolved around being unable to end a turn because the game insisted I still had something to do. I didn’t; it just decided I hadn’t checked out something I had looked at and refused to acknowledge. Then, I had to exit and restart. It happened only a couple of times and wasn’t too inconvenient. Another bug I encountered was again when I assumed I had reached the end of available content. Finishing a run-up to the doors of Gimle no longer returned me to The Holt and instead just trapped me there to play forever. However, you can just select to return to The Holt from the menu, and it will still act as though you completed the run. Again, it’s not that big of an issue.
All in all, my biggest problem with Roots of Yggdrasil is that I want more content, more figures from Norse mythology to appear, and a bit more mythology in general. In its current build, there isn’t a lot of explaining of Ragnarok or Yggdrasil, and those without knowledge of Norse mythology might be left wanting a little more detail. Sure, it’s an apocalypse, everyone knows that, but where are the two wolves eating the Sun and Moon? There are a lot of weird creatures and figures that could be making an appearance, and hopefully, they are on the content roadmap, which will be released alongside the game.
*EDIT* YOU CAN ROTATE THE BUILDINGS USING Q OR E! Apparently I pressed everything except the two most obvious keys to do so. Thanks to Antoine from the dev team for letting me know!
Roots of Yggdrasil comes to Steam early access on January 24.
Roots of Yggdrasil Review – Roots Maneuver
In its Early Access stage, Roots of Yggdrassil could stand to use some more content and story elements. It’s a came I want to paly more of, but I don’t always have a reason to.
Easy mechanics to grasp
A variety of resources are at your disposal to make future runs easier
I cannot stress enough how much I want to rotate buildings
Lacking some story elements that would make it more engaging.