Röki isn’t quite what it appears to be at first glance. On the surface, this is a beautiful point-and-click adventure game bathed in Scandinavian folklore but scratch under the surface and you’ll find darkness. It’s a game full of magic creatures, adventure but also it’s about dealing with life’s hardships too. Prepare yourself for a heartfelt tale of family, love and mystery as you explore frozen forests in this exquisite adventure from Polygon Treehouse.
The game starts out with you as Tove playing with her younger brother Lars playing hide and seek amongst the snow-covered wilderness just outside their house. They’re clearly having fun, but it’s dinner time and Tove is hunger so she does her very best to get her energy-filled Lars back to the house in one piece. Father is asleep by the fire and you have to cook dinner, and eggs are the only thing left in the cupboard. Clearly the family has been through some tough times, as a mother is nowhere to be seen and Tove looks slightly worn down. After a bedtime story, something big comes crawling out of the forest and steals away Tove’s younger brother, then it’s time to find out who (or what) has come for them and restore some kind of normality to their lives.
A rich history is weaved in the first hour of the game where you’re introduced to a series of characters in books, legends who once looked over and protected the forest. We’re given a slight glimpse into the sad background of Tove and her family, all against the backdrop of beautiful music and graphics that draw you into the lore of the game world. It’s all very inviting like a comfy chair next to a roaring fireplace. Once you have made your escape from your initial encounter with this new, dreamlike danger the world comes alive. Ravens, statues and the landscape itself brings a vibrance to your exploring. There are trolls, an all-seeing tree and secrets around every turn.
Röki is a point-and-click adventure game and you’re introduced to the mechanics very early on in your adventure taking care of your little brother and making sure dinner is on the table and there’s enough firewood burning to keep father warm while he gently rocks to sleep in his chair.
There’s the classic gathering of items in your inventory and various combinations, but it feels smoother than other recent point-and-click adventure games I have played. Each item has it’s logical next step and I didn’t feel the need to sweep the screen for something to interact with. This is helped by a great system where you can press a button or key to identify areas on the screen that you can interact with. This really helped with reducing the sometimes frustrating experience of other games in this genre.
The central inventory system keeps things nice and simple where you can either combine items with one another or drag them onto the environment. The audio design in the game does a great job of positive reinforcement here when it comes to your inventory with a satisfying chime when you get something right, or when Tove scribbles something in her notebook.
The puzzles found in Röki are never too obtuse as you work your way toward a goal. There’s normally more than one mystery on the go at any one time, and there’s a sense of innocence and positivity to the game that feels rare. This is the story of a little girl trying to save her brother, and do all she can to help the creatures she meets along the way. The game is split into 3 chapters and in the 2nd chapter, you’ll get some handy hints from the Tree Of Many, making the puzzling even less of an issue. There’s also a really handy fast-travel system here, but unfortunately, that system doesn’t last all throughout the roughly 10-hour adventure.
The whole inventory system works beautifully well together. Tove has a map of the local area as well as notes she takes along the way. There’s loot to collect like bugs and scraps found on the floor which she carefully adds to her notebook as ‘loot’ and you also have badges too to show off your achievements. The UI in this game is complimentary and doesn’t get in your way.
The graphics and the audio complement each other well as the world is beautiful. Snow-covered trees and caves and ice glisten around every turn, and the music offers a bright and breezy upbeat soundtrack to an otherwise sometimes sad and lonely adventure.
This is a game where the narrative takes centre stage and everything else compliments it rather than adding obstruction. The controls and systems made gliding through this game a breeze, which sets you up nicely for the hard-hitting story of folklore, family and love. The mystical fantasy that’s weaved around Tove sometimes mirrors that of her family life, but to go into any more detail would be encroaching on spoiler territory.
The biggest compliment I can give to this game is you should play it. It’s available on a number of platforms from PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch and it’s one of the most engrossing stories I have played in some time. Röki is a game that will delight and surprise and I’d recommend you giving it a try today.