Ring of Pain Review

Ring of Pain

I fell into a burning ring of… pain?

Ring of Pain is exactly what its title claims it to be: a literal ring of pain. Or rather, a ring of cards, most of which are capable of causing you grave amounts of pain. Essentially a Rogue-like dungeon crawler, Ring of Pain does away with physical enemies and the act of wandering around trying to find loot, instead replacing those usual mechanics with a deck of cards. Cards can be enemies, items, upgrades, or something else entirely – and all you’ve got to do, really, is survive.

While Ring of Pain is an incredibly easy game to pick up and play, it’s hard to master. The mechanics of moving through cards is simple enough; your stats dictate how much damage you’ll deal, and an enemy card’s stats will let you know how much damage they’ll give back to you. Come head-to-head with a card you don’t think you can take on, and you can try to sneak away. But unless you have excellent stealth stats, chances are you’ll get spotted – and damaged in the process.

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You’re not always sure what cards await you as you move through them in Ring of Pain. You can hope that you’ll find a potion to restore your health, or a new piece of equipment that will boost your stats – but you’re just as likely to come up against an exploding enemy. They might not have much HP themselves, but finishing them off will set off an explosion, dealing huge damage to you. If they’re still in front of you, you better hope you’ve got a full bar of health.

So while Ring of Pain‘s random nature means a lot of your success is down to luck, there is also an element of skill involved. The more you play, the more you’ll become acquainted with certain types of enemies, learning the best way to deal with them. Those exploding enemies? You’ll soon learn it’s worth risking sneaking past them, letting them explode out of your sight and taking out any neighbouring enemies with them.

Each ring of cards will include at least one ‘gateway’ card, leading to another area. In between rounds, you’ll often come across areas of reprieve; places you can grab free items, heal yourself, or spend souls – which you get for killing enemies – on new equipment. You may also find yourself getting ambushed however; winding up in an area with only enemies, where your chances of survival are slim to none.

The further you get in Ring of Pain, the more intense the gameplay feels. For a game so simple in its premise, the pressure it puts on you does mount. The first time you come face to face with an enemy whose attack far outweighs what your health and defence stats can cope with, your heart will drop. And it will happen – likely time and time again. But you’ll keep on trying, hoping the next time you play, you’ll get that bit further, or find better equipment to help you on your way.

Outside of the main game, Ring of Pain also boasts a daily challenge, which pits you against an online leaderboard. Everyone plays with the same layout of cards (as opposed to the usual random deal), and you’ll be awarded a score for how far you get. Seeing how you compare to other players on the leaderboard is a nice touch, and one that will encourage you to keep playing to attempt to climb the ranks.

Ring of Pain probably isn’t something you’ll sit and play for hours at a time. It’s the sort of thing you’ll enjoy a few rounds of before turning it off, more than likely feeling defeated. But it won’t be long before you’re itching to jump back in and try again. There’s something infectious about its simplicity; it’s a roguelike dungeon crawler like no other, and despite the lack of action or actual dungeon-crawling, it’s huge amounts of fun. Even when you’re exploding left, right and centre.

Ring of Pain is available on PC. This review was facilitated by a code provided by the publisher.