If you’ve ever wanted to explore Scandinavian folklore and fairytales in a contemporary setting, Röki is the game for you. But don’t be fooled, it’s not a happy story, Röki sets to explore the dark and mysterious through a child’s perspective. Tove, tasked with finding her family, has to dive into a deep, dark and cold forest and face its mysteries.
Röki was set up in a corner of EGX that I happened to come across whilst adventuring on the first day of EGX, as soon I saw the artwork and character design I was sold. As I sat down I was instantly attracted to the ‘Character cards’, which honestly, at an event where many games were showing off cool gameplay mechanics or amazing visuals, that’s not to say that Röki doesn’t have these, because it certainly does! But it felt that the team at Polygon Treehouse were more concerned with showing us these characters and the world that they have clearly, made through a labour of love and that was a breath of fresh air for me. In an Expo where some games were trying to be to “Flashy”, it was a nice break to see a game say, “Hey, why don’t you sit back and explore our world?”
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the demo showed. We were confronted by a troll under a bridge, that has a sword stuck in its shoulder, it asks for our help. Tove seems anxious by this, saying something along the lines of “Hopefully if I help, it won’t kill me”. She even states disbelieve that the troll was real, which is interesting that when Tove is faced with this strange world, she’s still in a sense of disbelief that it is real. We also met a creature in an abandoned house that needs food, it won’t come out of hiding because it is afraid, Tove again a little sceptical still decides to help if she can. Polygon Treehouse has emphasised that they want the player to be able to make friends with monsters, which is an interesting take. I wonder if they are exploring a child’s way of learning not to judge a book by its cover. But it also gets me concerned that if Tove is always being helpful, how often will this put her in danger? This will probably be a major plot device within the story, building on trust and breaking it. The game will try to test the player’s judgement when it comes to deciding which crazy looking monster will help, or which one won’t.
There is also focus on symbolism within the game also, scattered through the scenery were wooden carved crows. Given the opportunity to interact with them Tove states something like “They know there are other birds than crows”, there was even one moment where a crow is lined up like a carving, but flies off at the last moment. Tove, to me, is instantly likeable and will no doubt be what people love most about Röki. She’s daring, funny, witty and at the same time cautious and aware of the danger she is in. We don’t see enough of that with characters in videogames, she feels human. This will definitely be a game that theory crafters will dive deep into, me included!
The gameplay feels like it borrows from the ‘Point and click’ genre and whilst I have little to no experience with, mainly because I grew up playing consoles, I’ve always been envious of people that had the opportunity to explore these narrative-driven games. Now Röki can be my pseudo-introduction into the genre. The reason that I say it borrows from this genre is the inventory management and combining system, you find things by interacting with them within the world and combine them to make useful equipment. Also, from what we’ve seen and with the Scandinavian influences, riddles and puzzles will be the main challenge within the game, giving players much opportunity to dive deep into what I assume is going to be a tale full of surprises.
Röki is possibly my favourite new find at EGX 2019 and is definitely on my ‘must buy’ list, such a welcome surprise to my already huge backlog, but I have a feeling it will be making its way into my favourite games once I get a chance to play it!
The game is currently to release sometime in 2020, so hopefully, we get some information soon as I’m pretty excited about it! Check them out here for further updates;
And as always,
thanks for reading!