As the LudoNarraCon festival draws to a close later on this week, I was keen to try a few of the demos and see which upcoming narrative-focused games I'll be sinking into over the next year. Röki instantly caught my eye, with its snow-capped mountains, eerie structures, and a tiny character exploring an unknown, wintery world. It's a harsh environment, littered with secrets.
Röki is a mysterious game—its demo revealed just enough to have me asking deep questions by the time it concluded. Buried deep in the snowy Scandinavian wilderness, I was quickly introduced to the magical properties of the forest, before setting off on a slow trek through it. While treading through a place of such natural majesty should feel daunting, it felt oddly comforting to venture deeper into its calm surroundings.
Little time is spent with Tove, but the demo provides a glimpse of how you interact with the world. Combing the surrounding area for clues uncovers more of Röki's mystical story, while adding various curiosities to your backpack. Upon stumbling across a bear trap it's difficult to imagine how that can possibly benefit Tove, until you work out how to fashion it into a tool to help an injured troll. Poking around an abandoned church I was surprised to be—quite literally—digging deeper into the secrets that lie there. Using an item is a simple click-and-drag interaction, but the satisfaction comes from solving a string of small puzzles to finally find the solution to a problem encountered much earlier.
It's clear that developer Polygon Treehouse will be tapping into a number of emotions as the rest of Röki's story unfolds, but the feeling that struck me hardest is how lonely Tove is out there in the snow. Her journey has been one of melancholy and confusion so far, yet she takes everything in her stride. More than anything, it's the glimmers of kindness sparked from her interactions with others that gives me hope that everything is going to be okay, despite the darkness you can feel brewing beneath the story's surface. Running into a small, hostile creature, Tove shrugs off its sour reception and mentions that she'll look for something for it to eat. At a time where she needs help more than anyone, her kindness never waivers.
I'm anxious to learn what lies ahead for Tove. Röki's world is a layered woodland picture book brought to life, and strolling around to its soothing soundtrack is a nice way to decompress. You still have three days to experience Röki for yourself. The demo is brief, but you can spend as long as you want wandering through the forest. Polygon Treehouse has even included mini achievements in the form of badges for the most inquisitive players to unlock.