Röki is a point and click-esque, adventure game based on various pieces of Scandinavian folklore mainly focusing on their own story about some jätte or giants. Four jätte, a wolf, bear, elk, and raven were part with nature looking over the forest, but the raven fell in love with a human and changed into a woman to be with him and had a child, but ran from the man with her baby because it was neither jätte nor human, and was banished along with her baby by her three siblings. That’s the basis for the entire game. You play as Tove, a young girl taking care of herself and her brother, Lars, as their father has become despondent and effectively comatose ever since his wife died, an analogue of a man becoming a drunk, drinking and sleeping the day away because he’s unable to deal with the reality of his wife being dead. Well, one day a creature from folklore, some sort of jätte, shows up and kidnaps Lars and it’s up to Tove to rescue him.
The game is incredibly cute and deals with some very serious issues: kidnapping, both attempted and successful pedicide, alcoholism, neglect of children, a child enacting as an adult because the adult is mentally and emotionally absent, repressed memories of trauma, and dealing with parental deaths. There’s a lot to take in, wrapped up in this colorful, nice, fairly child-friendly game. It is all worked through in a positive way, but still… that’s pretty fucking heavy subjects. The only subject on that list that I would have liked dealt with a bit more are the traumatic repressed memories. At the end of the game I would have liked it to have furthered dealing with that part because that is a fairly serious part that is dealt with for like around two thirds or so of the game. Like, even if it was just an indication the kid was seeing a therapist or something at the end would have been nice, instead it was just handwaved that everything is fine because you dealt with it for like 20 minutes so you’re fine now… I’m a psychologist by trade, so that doesn’t work for me, cause as you go through those parts, that kid needs fucking therapy, it’s pretty fucking clear. But I mean it needs to be somewhat gamified cause it is, after all, a game; but still, I would have liked something at the end there just to indicate something was being done for the kid. That’s just a me thing though, I’m sure.
Most of the game is spent finding things to pick up and putting them where they belong or trading them for what you need. Most of it isn’t too complicated, usually you can look at things and be like, “duh”. For instance, you find a statue that sticks through a wall and has a peg in it on the other side to make sure it doesn’t fall out, well you get a mallet later, you knock the peg out with the mallet and you pick up the statue. You dig shit up with a shovel, it’s all pretty basic for the most part which is nice. Later in the game you get more complicated puzzles because they’re actual puzzles based on some riddles, they’re still fairly basic but it requires a little more brain power to them.
The graphics are amazing. Everything is completely hand drawn and beautiful. The animations are fluid for the most part, the instances where they weren’t I think were meant to be scratchy because they were in more foreboding situations. The voice acting is good but exceptionally scant. I thought I was going to be treated to full voice acting and sadly wasn’t. The voices were great and I loved them, however, for any given sentence they’d say one word or make some sort of noise. Just because I put fourteen hours into the game and can’t remember all of its dialogue, one character calls out things like “Hey guys” and the like but all the voice actor says is Tove. Numerous times characters would just voice hmmm, ahh, and ohhh when the sentences were saying, well, sentences. It’s all a shame honestly cause the voice actors were fantastic.
I’d love to tell you more, especially after stating I played it for fourteen hours, however, it’s heavily narratively driven. What I can tell you is you meet a mother tree and her children, a couple of really cool trolls, some frog people, fairy creatures that look like flying poop people (and yes you read that right), the Nøkken, the jätte, tomte, and the Yule cat among other creatures of folklore. So you get a lot of folklore stuff in this, stuff like this is why I play these games, this stuff is so interesting. I absolutely adore games about folklore so I’m totally biased, the game has to be absolute rubbish for me to hate it when it comes to this stuff.
So yeah there are some drawbacks, one is just a personal nitpick and the other is that there’s not enough voice acting in the game because the voice acting was too good to not have more of it in there. Everything else about the game was simply fantastic.
Röki was developed by Polygon Treehouse.
$20 on Steam, not available yet on Switch, but likely will be the same.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.
darkmikasonfire gives Röki the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval to play with, since his ball was rudely popped.