Monday, October 26, 2020
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Röki review – If you go down in the woods today…

Like a lot of things based on Scandinavian folklore, Röki looks cute but isn’t really. This is entirely to its credit – and to the enduring credit of Scandinavian folklore, I imagine. Röki’s about woodland ponds, but it’s also about pond scum. It’s about sweet little animals, but it’s also about the skulls of sweet little animals. And it’s about magic, but what it’s really about is the stuff that magic can’t undo. I was gently moved for a few hours and then I was clobbered, gorgeously, over the head. This game hurts. I love it.

Röki is a point-and-click adventure about Tove, a girl out looking for her little brother, who has been taken by mysterious forces. It’s about her family, still woozy from a devastating loss that none of them can properly face, and it’s about the surrounding landscape, which is sparkling with ice and frost and rich with strange beings and dark histories. Stone trolls litter the forest paths and real trolls may lurk in the deeper shadows. Wooden churches, fitted with carved gargoyles, poke from glittering drifts of snow. Stone and moss are in stalemate. Don’t ask about the mushrooms.

Tove’s objective – and this is as much as I’m going to spoil – involves tracking down a group of forgotten giants who once tended the land, so her mission is really about understanding the landscape that she is exploring. It’s a fascinating place. Caves and temples and forests are hardly new to video games, but they seem freshly wrought here, glittering snow banked up against rocks, runes etched into ancient walls, wooden models of ravens dangling from trees. A path of gnawed rib bones might lead you deeper into a lair. A twilight grotto may have bookcases and chairs stacked by the oily shore. A cauldron might burble in the depths.

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Like a lot of things based on Scandinavian folklore, Röki looks cute but isn’t really. This is entirely to its credit – and to the enduring credit of Scandinavian folklore, I imagine. Röki’s about woodland ponds, but it’s also about pond scum. It’s about sweet little animals, but it’s also about the skulls of sweet little animals. And it’s about magic, but what it’s really about is the stuff that magic can’t undo. I was gently moved for a few hours and then I was clobbered, gorgeously, over the head. This game hurts. I love it.

Röki is a point-and-click adventure about Tove, a girl out looking for her little brother, who has been taken by mysterious forces. It’s about her family, still woozy from a devastating loss that none of them can properly face, and it’s about the surrounding landscape, which is sparkling with ice and frost and rich with strange beings and dark histories. Stone trolls litter the forest paths and real trolls may lurk in the deeper shadows. Wooden churches, fitted with carved gargoyles, poke from glittering drifts of snow. Stone and moss are in stalemate. Don’t ask about the mushrooms.

Tove’s objective – and this is as much as I’m going to spoil – involves tracking down a group of forgotten giants who once tended the land, so her mission is really about understanding the landscape that she is exploring. It’s a fascinating place. Caves and temples and forests are hardly new to video games, but they seem freshly wrought here, glittering snow banked up against rocks, runes etched into ancient walls, wooden models of ravens dangling from trees. A path of gnawed rib bones might lead you deeper into a lair. A twilight grotto may have bookcases and chairs stacked by the oily shore. A cauldron might burble in the depths.

Read more

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