Tove enters a magical world to rescue his little brother, armed with his bravery and wit.Norse mythology is gaining notoriety in the media, although it is not as deeply rooted in our culture as the Greek.
Series like Vikings have rekindled interest in that civilization, and digital interest reflects a new interest in Scandinavian legends to set fantasy titles. God of War, traditionally set in Hellenic mythology, gained a new perspective with Kratos and his second chance at Scandinavian lands. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla promises a new adventure steeped in history and fantasy of Viking peoples. Hellblade narrates the journey of Senua, who faces the demons of her psyche while searching for her beloved from the same kingdom of Hela. The indie market, for its part, is not far behind with such memorable titles as The Banner Saga. Recently, the Polygon Treehouse studio launched Röki (Windows PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch), a LucasArts-style graphic adventure in which we attend the journey of the hero of Tove, a girl who will enter a magical world to rescue her brother and discover yourself.
Tove and the heroin journey
Röki is the debut of Tom Jones and Alex Kanaris-Sotirou, former Guerrilla Games art directors who have formed the independent studio Polygon Treehouse. In crafting Tove’s story, the duo have applied the familiar and inherited rules of LucasArts: challenging puzzles without being cryptic and the peace of mind without lethal consequences. However, absurd humor is replaced by affordable logic within the astonishing dimension that Scandinavian fantasy offers.
Our protagonist is Tove, a girl who has been forced to mature faster than her age requires: with her tragically deceased mother and her father mired in depression and alcoholism, the girl has taken charge of her home. The bitter reality of this unstructured family is drawn in a sequence that, with few and elegant details, informs us of what happened without falling into morbidness. But sadness does not undermine the spirit of Tove, who finds her joy in her beloved younger brother Lars. Gray normality is disrupted by an extraordinary event: a monster attacks the family’s cabin, which must flee in a hurry. During the flight, the father is left behind, while the little one disappears behind a mysterious portal. Tove, abandoned to her fate in a forest inhabited by magical and dangerous creatures, must go to the rescue of her brother. And, like almost every heroine in a graphic adventure, the girl does not have great physical strength or supernatural powers; only her wit and bravery. However, the history of Tove, precisely, is a vindication of those values, thanks to which she not only survives, but also wins the respect of the forest’s inhabitants, who end up contemplating her as a heroine.
Riddles between magic beasts
Thus, Tove must explore unknown terrain that is not governed by natural laws, interact with beasts that legends present as dangerous, and must solve puzzles to win the favor of her potential allies. Although the setting is quite kind to the most profane audience in Scandinavian folklore, the most knowledgeable in the matter and players with slight notions will find a love letter to a rich and attractive culture, with various licenses to create the Tove epic. As for the story, this one penetrates very emotionally in two aspects: Tove discovers his own strength and befriends fascinating and endearing creatures, while embarking on a personal journey that deals with topics such as forgiveness, guilt and overcoming loss.
Equipped with her backpack, Tove will collect and combine items that will be key to progress. In her diary, she will write down the terrain map and all the necessary tasks to solve the mystery of her brother’s whereabouts. While some puzzles are very obvious, there will be others that will require special attention to the clues that have been provided to us. All in all, we will feel that special satisfaction of graphic adventures when we find the solution to a problem that we previously saw was indecipherable. Without gutting the story, the last episode of the game allows us to play between the magical and the tangible planes with two different characters, which will stimulate teamwork and provide a more complex difficulty. Perhaps the only flaw in the puzzle system is overcomplicating a riddle, leaving out feasible solutions without explanation. Also, the control can be shocking at the beginning for veteran graphic adventurers: the point & click is replaced by the WASD scroll, while we must open the backpack with the inventory and from there schoose the objects with Enter and drag them with the mouse to use them. The exploration is facilitated thanks to the F key, which highlights the important points of each area. We also have collectibles called treasures: small finds that highlight Tove’s childhood curiosity.