What I'm Playing - No. 170
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Tove and Lars live with their father, and other than the loneliness of missing their mother, their lives are ordinary. But when a massive monster attacks their home one night, they’re forced to flee deep into the forest, and find themselves surrounded by creatures they thought only existed in fairy tales.
Röki is an adventure game released in 2020 for Switch and PC, and 2021 for PS5 and Xbox Series. The stars of the show here are a touching story steeped in Scandinavian folklore, and very well executed cel-shaded visuals. The gameplay is solid too, it sports a few classic point and click elements, like combining items in your inventory and using them on parts of the environment to solve puzzles. You’ll have to run back and forth around the map a bit, but there’s a system of shortcuts you unlock as you go that make the backtracking easier. Getting a new item and figuring out where you need to use it is always very satisfying too. I haven’t played an adventure game like this in a while. When I was a kid, I played a whole bunch of Humongous Entertainment’s point and click games, Putt Putt, Freddie Fish, Pajama Sam, Spy Fox, those were what introduced me to the genre, and that nostalgia definitely helped me enjoy Röki even more.
As I mentioned, there’s a great story here. They really build up an effective emotional connection to the characters quickly. I got invested early on, and part of what kept me playing was the need to find out how things would turn out for these characters. This game does the thing where there’s not full acting, but there are voice clips that play for some lines to add character and convey emotion. In most cases, these are just single worlds or sighs and that sort of vocal noise, but the main characters also have voice clips saying each other’s names. Though the voice acting is minimal like this, it’s really effective and helps to further flesh out these characters. It also taught me how to pronounce Tove (at least, I think it did).
The gameplay is quite good most of the time, but some parts did get a bit tedious when I couldn’t find the last thing I needed to find in order to progress. I got stuck on one part for a long time, and ran around the entire map twice trying to find what I was missing. In the end, it turns out I just didn’t realize I could go to certain areas. This is the only con about the fixed camera angles used here, in this case it made it difficult to see that I could go the way I needed to go, because I didn’t realize there was a doorway there. You can press a button to highlight objects that you can interact with, and this makes finding what you need easy enough most of the time, but there’s a handful of times when the thing you need is very small or easy to overlook. I lost quite a bit of time struggling to find some things, only to realize they had been right in front of my face.
Röki’s powerful storytelling and unique visual style make it stand out. Aside from a few spots, it was a joy to play through, and I really enjoyed seeing all the Scandinavian folklore brought to life and learning a little bit about it. Whether you’re brand new to adventure games or you’re a point and click veteran, it’s well worth a shot. My final time was 8 hours 28 minutes.