Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: United Label
Developer: Polygon Treehouse
Release Date: July 23, 2020


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PC Preview - 'Roki'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 8, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Röki is an adventure game about a young girl venturing deep into the forbidden wilderness, a land of dark mystery, ancient magic and monsters.

Roki made me happy. I'm a sucker for games featuring a hand-drawn art style because they give off an aura of innocence and creative purity we don't always see front and center on an E3 floor or meeting room. What adds to that air of earnestness for Roki is that it's also a fairy tale, based on Scandinavian lore and featuring a young girl as the point person for its story.

The youngster, named Tove, is trying to track down her missing family. In the demo we saw at E3 2019, her world carries the idyllic Scandinavian scenery of snow-covered peaks, valleys and woodlands as the backdrop for quaint village edifices, caves and other places that hold the potential for magic.

One thing I didn't find (which is by intention) is a lot of traditional action: Tove doesn't have a sword to whack things with, nor is she platforming from place to place. Roki looks to be a game of wondrous, innocent exploration underneath a veil of dark fantasy. A variety of thinky puzzles will serve as the game's engine of activity, using an interface where you can find and store a variety of tools and items, combine them if needed and then "drag" those items to a point on the screen to see if they can execute the necessary action.

That's exactly what I did when I encountered a large cave troll who had a sword stuck in his shoulder. I had Tove explore the area around the troll, several screens away in each direction like a true 2D experience. I've come across an abandoned church and a cabin, where I found things like a bear trap and rope. That led to helping the troll, who was only too happy to move along from his spot under the bridge — thereby opening up another path for Tove to explore.

It's interesting to note that body of work is the project of a pair of former PlayStation/Guerrilla Games alums in Tom Jones and Alex Kanaris-Sotiriou. Guerrilla, as you know, created games like Killzone and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Roki is quite the departure from those titles, but it falls within the narrative mission of this relatively new studio. It's due out later this year.

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