Röki immediately managed to catch my interest the very first moment I saw screenshots of it when it was revealed three years ago. I just can’t help but adore indie games with great graphics and art direction. Having the chance to finally experience the world within this game was a joy to me and honestly, it’s truly one of a kind.
The thing that really shone and stood out for me, in Röki, was the stunning landscape which mainly takes place within a snowy location. It reminded me of the cosy Christmas season, so my mood was automatically cheerful during my playthrough – although, the game doesn’t have a festive vibe overall but is, in fact, surprisingly dark.
Röki revolves around Tove who leads a relatively quiet life with her father and little brother, Lars. You see, nothing is the same anymore ever since her mother is gone but luckily, she has a good relationship with her brother. One day, a huge monster kidnaps Lars and of course, Tove follows them to save him. However, they all disappear through a portal into a different world and despite finding herself in an unfamiliar place, she is determined to get reunited with Lars again. During her journey, she has to overcome a lot of hurdles and, additionally, will need the help of the residents.
As aforementioned, Röki is quite dark. While the surroundings are beautiful, there are monsters throughout the game Tove has to be careful of. It’s her task to not get eaten while somehow helping various creatures, so they can return the favour. Although it seems like an adorable game at first, there are a lot of dangers within the forest for Tove, especially the ones who kidnapped Lars. It so happens that the forest itself has a lot of problems as well and is out of balance. Thus, it’s helpful that Tove got lost there.
I could greatly sympathise with Tove during her journey. While the idea of waking up in another world seems crazy enough, she was determined to fulfil her goal, no matter how hopeless it seemed. Her determination motivated me at the same time, so I kept wanting to go on and see both of them reunite. Of course, Tove has to be fast as there is not a lot of time left for Lars. Luckily, she meets a lot of nice creatures as well who are a great help when it comes to finding her brother’s location.
That being said, the theme of Röki is fairy tales. It’s quite interesting when I think about it, as fairy tales can indeed be dark as well and contain monsters. Admittedly, I would usually always associate happy things with that subject. To be specific, this game revolves around Scandinavian folklore and although I didn’t know anything about it before, there was a lot of information about the creatures. I felt like the game gave me an understanding of the narrative such as trolls eating bones. Röki is such a magical game, yet, it’s much more than this and managed to utterly surprise me.
When going through the plot, I didn’t expect this game to tell such an emotional story. As exploration takes up a huge part of the playing time, I felt like the past of certain characters didn’t get explained in-depth enough. Sure, it was touching, yet, the story only got briefly mentioned so that the player knows why Lars got kidnapped, as well as the past of Tove. Nonetheless, it took me off guard as I figured it was just going to be about her saving her brother from a villain, however, everyone has their own story. And there may be a reason why they became a villain in the first place. That’s something I appreciated about Röki, it took its time to explain the other side, so I couldn’t help but sympathise with everyone.
Gameplay-wise, Röki works similar to a point and click with the exception that the player has to actually walk to the object and interact with it. I found myself using only the keyboard during my playthrough. It’s possible to use the mouse as well, however, I found it rather inconvenient as I needed my second hand to use some features on the keyboard. Anyway, in this game, the core gameplay is to pick up objects, combine them and use them on other objects to either advance with the story, or get the next item needed for another task.
The problem I had with Röki was that if I happened to miss an item, I was unable to progress until I managed to find it. This can be, however, rather annoying as some chapters are very long and have a lot of locations the player can visit. It didn’t help that I had to go back and forth the same areas because I would obtain an item I needed for a location later on. Whilst that wasn’t an issue at the beginning, it became overwhelming after I had access to a lot of areas and simply had to visit each of them again to finally figure out what I was supposed to do.
Puzzles aren’t missing here as well and while some are more tricky, most of them were easily solvable. To solve the puzzles, the player has to pay attention to the hints and sometimes even find a certain amount of a specific item first. I found the puzzles refreshing as the gameplay didn’t only revolved around walking around, and picking up items, but also required one to think outside the box as well. Röki never tells its player what they exactly have to do but does it in a rather subtle way. Additionally, recalling Tove’s journey also proves very helpful when trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do, although paying attention to the environment is important as well.
Well, one can immediately tell that the graphics in Röki are stunning. I had a lot of joy walking through each area and couldn’t help but had to interact with every object I found. Luckily, there is a button that lets the player spot every item they can use, which greatly helped me during my playthrough as it’s hard to tell which part belongs to the decoration or is something I actually have to interact with. I was delighted every time I reached a new destination as it would mean I could explore it. Sometimes, the items were still rather hidden and it was a task for me to spot them, especially the collectables.
Röki is a lovely game that revolves around rather dark fairy tales. While I got stuck here and there, which frustrated me, I loved the overall presentation of the game. Exploring the world of this game was a delight to me and I never wanted it to end. Each time I managed to figure out what I was supposed to do or solve a puzzle, it felt rewarding to me, especially when the story continued so I finally manage to find out more about Tove and the villain. I absolutely appreciate the theme of this game, that no one is bad per se but they still have their own demons they have to face. That being said, Röki offers a splendid narrative and was hard for me to put down.
In terms of the beautiful soundtrack, you can actually pre-order the official limited edition LP here: https://blackscreenrecords.com/products/roki-official-soundtrack-by-aether
As you can see below, not only do they sell the 31-track double 180g Turquoise Vinyl LP (with included code to redeem the full digital soundtrack on both Steam and Bandcamp), but they also have four woven badges and two enamel pins. You can even save money by purchasing a bundle containing all seven items!
This limited-edition soundtrack is due for release in September 2020.