Review – Root

Overview

Developer Dire Wolf Digital
Publisher Dire Wolf Digital
Genre Board Game, Strategy
Platforms Nintendo Switch
Release Date November 16, 2021

Root by Leder Games is “A Game of Woodland Might and Right,” as you take control of one of four cute factions all vying for control of the forest. Each of the four (plus two in the expansion) factions has its own playstyle and objectives, letting players try different methods or styles based on their comfort with wargames and preference for playstyle (for our review of the Tabletop game, click here). So how does Dire Wolf Digital’s adaptation fare on the Switch? Read on for the review!

Content Guide

Battles

Players will on occasion (or often, depending on playstyle) attack one another to try and wrest control of a particular glade of the forest. A small animation is made of the two factions running anime-style at one another, and then a dust cloud-shrouded fight breaks out while the digital dice do their thing. After a winner is declared, the dust settles and the defeated warriors are laid out, with the survivors standing nearby, sometimes with bandages. If there are structures destroyed, they will be up in flames, but they go out as soon as the current move is over. 

Review

Board games in digital form are a catch-22; they take away the one thing Tabletop can boast versus Video games—gathering with friends, family, or strangers around a real table in real life—but by making a computer do all the math, shuffling, setup, and breakdown, you also get rid of the least fun parts of board games. A game like Root is ripe for digital, because with all the different factions and strategies to learn, it’s great being able to quickly play and pause as needed while learning its ins and outs. 

The first thing players will see after loading up Root is a fun little animation of some of the characters of the game playing in a band together. This is the nicest they will ever be to each other. The game runs smoothly both in handheld and on the television, and it’s quite satisfying to march your troops around the board or watch your latest building pop into a glade along with however many victory points you just earned. The sound direction is also great, as each time the Marquise de Cats has a turn you hear the “bzzzz” of their sawmills, or when the Eyrie get more troops you hear chirping. My only quibble on the visual side is that some of the cats can tend to stare, unblinking, when they’re not doing anything. I’m not saying they need a fun idle animation (wouldn’t hurt) but just blinking or looking side to side would be appreciated. 

Root ships with a decent tutorial for each of the factions, but you’ll still want to play a few games to fully grasp the differences between each of them. That’s where the Challenges come in. Each faction has a handful of Challenges such as winning while destroying the Marquise’ Keep or playing as a Pacifist Vagabond. Each of the Challenges makes players adapt their style just enough to keep them on their toes. And if Challenges or AI don’t excite you, it has a Pass-and-Play mode that will let you share a Switch with a friend. 

Root‘s digital version also ships with an Online Mode, but I had difficulty finding an open, unlocked lobby with players willing to go. When I finally did find one, I ended up quitting after waiting for 20 minutes for a player to pick their starting location. Since the game only just launched in November, hopefully this will pick up soon for the players wanting to test their mettle online against strangers. Unfortunately/fortunately there isn’t any way to chat, emote, or poke other players. 

“TAKE YOUR TURN!”

So if you’ve been wanting to play a meaty strategy game with cute forest animals attacking each other over parcels of forest land, check out Root. It’s got lots of content to keep you busy, help you learn the game, and if the online community picks up it will have all the cylinders firing. Just …try not to make eye contact with the cats, okay? 

“VICTORY! Now to stare off into the distance, unblinking, while my opponents hang their heads in shame.”

A digital code was provided by the publisher.

The Bottom Line

 

If you’ve been wanting to play a meaty strategy game with cute forest animals attacking each other over parcels of forest land, check out Root.

 

8.0

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Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.

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