Röki is a point-and-click adventure game that takes place in a Scandinavian folklore setting. You play as a young girl looking for her brother, who has been kidnapped by a giant monster. What perils will she have to face to save him?
I’ve been keeping a close eye on Röki for quite some time now, always eager to see updates on their twitter account as they usually had some tasty GIFs to share and the loveable artwork had stolen my heart from the first time I laid my eyes upon it.
But let’s start at the beginning of the story and work our way up from there. Tove is a young girl, out playing in the woods with her little brother, Lars. When they return to their home, they find their father asleep in front of the fireplace and as she has to prep their dinner it becomes clear that Tove has quite a responsibility to bear: taking care of her brother while she’s of such a young age herself.
And then disaster strikes: their home gets attacked by a giant monster. With their house in ruins and their father buried under the rubble, Tove & Lars have to make a hasty escape through the forest and get help from the far-off village.
Despite their efforts, the monster still manages to grab Lars. It escapes through a magic portal and Tove has no choice but to follow them if she wants to save her little brother.
This is where the fantastical tale really starts. You enter a forest full of creatures from Scandinavian folklore and while some appear to be friendly, most of them just want to eat you… unless you can do something for them instead.
As you journey through the woods and an abandoned castle, you learn more about the world and the creatures that inhabit it. Usually, the conversation starts with them threatening to swallow you whole or grind your bones into a tea, but they soon take a liking to Tove and ask her to help them out.
The progression feels rather open. Although there is a straight line to follow for each main quest, you’re free to tackle the subtasks in whatever order fits you best. The journal can be used to keep track of what you have to do for each one, but I found it a bit cumbersome to navigate the pages and it seemed like not all of the necessary clues were added to it. Eventually, I started writing things down in a paper journal of my own.
It’s perhaps one of my only complaints, if you can call it that, about the game. I found myself backtracking quite a lot because I thought I had just found the tool to progress a storyline and then only after trying out the item on the object or character noticed that it wasn’t what the game wanted me to do. Like when I knew I needed a torch, but I just couldn’t find a piece of wood to wrap the cloth around (turns out I needed to grab a bone much later on)
Luckily the forest section has unlockable portals that will help you fast travel through the world: Scare off the crows that hang around the Waytrees and free them from entangling vines by slashing at them with your sword. Which brings me to the easy-to-use inventory system. You can use items simply by opening your backpack and dragging them unto the object you want to interact with. Combining items works similarly, just drop them onto each other.
While I’m ashamed to admit it, I’m happy the review copy came with a guide. There were a couple of solutions that eluded me, partly because I didn’t think things through and partly because the game could have done a slightly better job at hinting at solutions.
An example: at some point I dropped a key into a pit and had to fish it out. I combined the yarn I had with a fishing hook, but then the hint told me “You can’t reach it because it’s in the middle of the pit”. I tried to reposition myself in various ways around the pit, but it turned out I had to combine the yarn & hook to the spear I already had in my inventory, thus creating an actual fishing pole. I know this seems blatantly obvious, but I had been using the spear in other required ways before so it didn’t occur to me to try the combination.
Now, I realize this is a point-and-click adventure: trying out all kinds of items on all kinds of objects is kind of the main gameplay and part of the fun. Röki actually does a pretty good job at this, for the most part, making it fun to interact with the world and never cluttering your inventory too much.
I can’t overstate enough just how useful the highlight button was: pressing down on it made all objects you can interact with light up and gave you a clear idea if there was still something left to do in the current screen. It also made the tiny collectables more visible, which you could collect and add to your scrapbook to show to Lars.
Tove is an absolute delight of a character to play as. She’s a courageous young girl, facing a world full of dangers and unknowns, but her drive to save her brother motivates her to keep pushing through.
While the game doesn’t have any voice acting, they do all have some grunts, sighs and short unlocalised expressions that give the characters a lot of personality. I thought this was a smart move as it doesn’t cost a ton of money to localize entire spoken dialogues yes keeping the Scandinavian expressions like “takk” (bye) or “hej” (hi/hello) really add a lot of charm.
The animations also deserve a lot of praise. The troll’s noses wobble as they talk, mushrooms retract into the snow as you walk by them… Every scene is full of tiny details to make the environments look alive. You can truly feel this has been a work of love and that a lot of care has been put in.
The game will take around 10-12 hours to beat. 95% of the content isn’t optional, you can still spend some extra time in the world collecting all the items to add to your journal and some of the badges (achievements) you earn also require some specific actions. I just wish there was an option at the end to go back to the various locations to mop up everything + to check on all the friends you’ve helped along the way.
Röki will absorb you into its tale of wonders and mystery and you won’t be able to put the game down until you’ve seen the story come to an end. It’s an enchanting journey that modernises the genre and will go down into history as one of the prime examples of an adventure game done right.
*Disclosure: A Steam review copy has been provided by the publisher
Do you prefer to see the game in action? We’ve got you covered with the opening half hour: