Wood ‘n Stones Review

Wood ‘n Stones is a fun rogue-like survival game to play for a couple of hours.

Wood ‘n Stones is a side-scrolling rogue-like survival game developed and published by Studio Malaka, released on Steam and itch.io on November 28, 2019. Set in the stone age, you’re a caveman who needs to locate an Alpha Caveman and other cavemen, working together to farm wood and stone in order to defend the lands from attacking dinosaurs. The layout of the land is procedurally generated, and the overall size of the land can be customised in the game’s options menu. The premise is simple, yet even on the smallest land I still die a heck of a lot.

You start the game alone wielding a club that can hack trees, smash rocks and bash dinosaurs. A hand in the bottom right of the screen points in the direction that you’ll find an Alpha Caveman. The Alpha is tougher, so it’s a good idea to stick near them when dinosaurs start attacking. My first Alpha caveman looked a lot like Donald Trump, and these Alphas can also build campfires near cave entrances, providing you clear the entrance of trees and stones. Placing campfires next to nests will prevent dinosaurs from spawning. However, if it starts raining it will snuff the fires and therefore stop your supply of torches and risk spawning more dinosaurs.

As you cut down trees and bash stones, you’ll see a stockpile of resources at the top of the screen and clearing caves of debris will spawn other cavemen to help you. They will follow and roam around, occasionally asking for wood or stones. They will initially ask for stones which they will throw at dinosaurs. If you can build a campfire, the cavemen will ask for wood to make torches and then throw them at the dinosaurs which is more effective, providing you can keep up with the supply of wood. Once you run out of wood, they default back to throwing stones. Run out of stones and they’re not much help to you.

Some of the large trees contain red apples which you can collect and pass to other cavemen to heal them. You can heal yourself by picking corn, eggplants and apples growing in the ground and cavemen will pick their own fruit and veggies if they need health. If your health drops to 0 and you’re carrying an apple that you got out of a tree, it will automatically use that apple to give you full health so it’s worth having a couple of these on hand. There’s also a random chance that one of the caves will spawn a pet ‘puppy’ dinosaur which will help defend against attacking dinosaurs. As time goes on your puppy will ask for an apple and this will evolve it, making it bigger and stronger.

The graphics of the game are simple, and it runs smooth for the most part. Sometimes it feels like the game is jolting back and forth as if I was lagging but it’s an offline single player game. I do like the shift in lighting as day turns into night and back again with the moon and sun moving across the sky. The character and dinosaur models are well done, and the music is fitting this kind of game.

When you die, it’s game over and you must start you’re a new world over again. Sometimes I might die after 5 minutes, other times I’ve survived 10-15 minutes, but the dinosaurs just keep coming if you don’t place campfires near their nests and it can get pretty hectic if you haven’t found many other cavemen to help you. It’s therefore worth exploring as much as you can early on to find other cavemen before then regrouping with the Alpha and defending.

There is no survival score when you die, so there’s no real measure of how you went against your previous games other than remembering if you lasted longer. It would be great to see a ‘time survived’ score that ticks over and records your highest score. You could gain score based on how many dinosaurs you kill and keep a tally of the different types of dinosaurs killed, with higher scores earned for killing bigger dinosaurs. This could then lead to some global leaderboards to compare your survival skills against friends and other players. Without some form of measuring one game to the next, the game quickly becomes repetitive and there’s no incentive to start new games. Wood ‘n Stones is a fun rogue-like survival game to play for a couple of hours, but beyond that there’s not much more on offer in it’s current build.

Wood ‘n Stones is available to play on Steam or itch.io and is valued at AUD$11.50. This review utilised a Steam key provided for review purposes – thanks Studio Malaka!

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