The first time I heard about Röki was in a post over on Rendermonkee in January. We’d had several conversations about the adventure genre previously and he clearly had great taste in video games, so I took note when he published a list of upcoming indie titles to look out for.
However, I wasn’t entirely sure about the point-and-click at first despite adoring such releases. The premise seemed interesting enough but was perhaps a bit too cutesy for my taste: “A game of adventure, courage and folklore. It’s a game about monsters that shouldn’t exist, but do. Join Tove on a fantastical journey to save her family, and discover who she really is.” It ended up being a recommendation I filed away in my head for future reference but not one immediately added to my wishlist.
I was reminded of Rendermonkee’s post when it was announced that Röki was due to appear at EGX this year, and the event seemed the perfect opportunity to find out whether Polygon Treehouse’s project was something that could hold my attention. We headed over to the stand after trying the Beyond a Steel Sky demo at the Revolution Games’ booth on the first day at the expo and despite every seat being filled, I managed to get a spot in front of a screen fairly quickly. It was time to begin Tove’s adventure.
The game is inspired by Scandinavian folklore and is being advertised as a dark, contemporary fairy-tale. Our heroine is on a quest to save her family, with a journey ahead which will take her deep into a long-forgotten world full of strange locations and even stranger creatures. The ancient wilderness holds many secrets and players will need to seek out long-forgotten items to aid them along the way. Can you unlock hidden pathways and solve the riddles of the ancients?
The demo began with Tove finding hundreds of eyes staring at her from within the follow of a tree. Several conversations with them revealed she was searching for her missing brother and it was intriguing to hear their voice tell her that this situation had happened many times before. There was a way to stop the cycle however: she would need to find her way to Jötun (I may have spelt that incorrectly so my apologies to the developer for any mistakes!).
I then encountered a friendly troll underneath a bridge after heading out into the snow. She needed help removing a thorn from her shoulder, but unfortunately Tove was too short to reach so the next task was find a way to get rid of that spike. Searching a nearby nest uncovered a broach with a sharp pin, which allowed me to unpick the lock on a gate and find some rope; which I was then able to combine with a bear-trap picked up in an abandoned house to create a makeshift ‘troll squeezer’.
Later Devils 😈 (@LaterLevels) October 17, 2019
While working my way through this puzzle, a kind member of the Polygon Treehouse team approached to let me know I could press B on the controller to make Tove run faster and press down on the left thumbstick to reveal all the hotspots in an area. This aligns to the developer’s vision of creating an accessible title for all gamers; as explained on their website: “The game is designed to uniquely pose a challenge but to offer a helping hand when adventurers need it, meaning it can be enjoyed by all.”
I have to say though, I didn’t find I needed to use these assistive mechanics during the Röki demo. The puzzles I came across were logical, and it was a joy to watch Tove’s reaction when she realised she’d found a solution. Although it was still a work in progress during my time with the game, I could see an icon flash up in the bottom right-hand corner to let me know that the protagonist had added an entry to her trusty journal. This is where players are going to be able to delve deeper into Scandinavian folklore and earn ‘wilderness explorer’ badges.
So what was it that ultimately won me over and persuaded me to finally add Röki to my wishlist? Firstly, it was fact the title isn’t as cutesy as it initially seems: as with a lot of fairy-tales, there’s a dark undertone that I’m looking to digging into. Secondly, the artwork is impressive. It has a similar style to other narrative-driven titles I’ve really enjoyed such as The Gardens Between, and I love the way there’s a real sense of light and shadow in the environments despite there being no shading.
Although the release date is only showing as ‘2020’ right now, the Steam page for Röki has recently been made available so you can add it to your own wishlist. You can also follow Polygon Treehouse on Twitter to keep up to date on the latest news. I’m so pleased I made the effort to try the demo at EGX and let it change my mind – that Rendermonkee really does have great taste in adventures.