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Roki Review – Family Matters (PS5)

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Nominated for best new indie game of 2020 at The Game Awards and The BAFTAs, Polygon Treehouse’s adventure puzzler Roki finally roars its way into the PlayStation Store for PS5 owners. The story of siblings separated by a mythical monster attack on their tiny Scandinavian country home, it falls on older sister Tove’s shoulders to rescue her little brother.

Roki Review – Sister, Protector

Tove lives in a tiny cabin with her father Henrik and little brother Lars. It’s clear that they lost their mother some time ago; Henrik spends his days sleeping in his chair while Tove cares for her brother. She mends his favorite toy and scrapes together meals from whatever she finds in the house. When he needs to pee in the middle of the night, Tove takes him to the outhouse and makes sure he is safe. When we meet the siblings they are walking home from an afternoon of play. We help Tove prepare dinner and then urge her energetic brother upstairs for bed. But he is restless so Tove bribes him with a bedtime story. At the foot of her bed is an old fairytale book their mother used to read to her—the story of Guardians and one who was cast out when she fell in love with a human.

Roki review

Everything changes that night. Tove and Lars are attacked by an inky black monster. They try to fight back as best they can but ultimately need to flee their home and leave Henrik behind. Tove uses her wits to investigate the basement and find a way for them to escape. If they can make it through the forest, Tove and Lars can get help from people in town. But the monster pursues them into the dark woods. The siblings are separated and when Tove finally does find her brother, it’s only to see him disappear through a magical portal. Scared though she is, Tove refuses to give up. Her quest to rescue Lars will require exploring abandoned buildings, solving elaborate puzzles, and helping the local creatures. Because if Tove can find the other guardians, perhaps they can help her get Lars back. It’s no easy task. Tove will need to face some of her greatest fears if she wants to succeed.

Tove’s journey to rescue Lars and get back to their father goes to some dark places. There are things she’s buried deep down inside and history rewritten that needs to be confronted if she is going to protect her brother. I appreciate how more and more storytellers are weaving discussions such as death and grief back into games aimed for younger players. Death hurts, the truth is often scary, and we can’t be our best selves if we don’t confront the truth. Seeing games like Roki and The Lost Words tackling these topics lifts my heart. The developers crafted an experience about childhood for kids of all ages and made sure it was as accessible as possible. After experiencing Roki for myself, I cannot wait to see what this studio comes out with next.

Roki Review – Girlcub and the Gods

Roki’s tale unfolds over the course of three acts. The first section takes place at home and covers the events leading up to Lars’ disappearance. We learn the basics: how to use our items, combine them, and check our surroundings for visual cues. The middle act focuses on the forest and its inhabitants before moving to the winter castle. It’s a sprawling chapter. Tove travels back and forth through each area several times to unlock all of its secrets. In my opinion, this is when we see the best balance of puzzle crafting. No puzzle ever felt too difficult or overwhelming. Traveling between areas using the network of trees definitely contributed to this. If I had to run all the way from one end of the area to the other I’d have taken so many ESO breaks.

Roki review

Puzzles are the core of Roki. Every scene features interactive elements for Tove to investigate or toss into her backpack. Some of these will stick with her for a while and others she’ll use almost immediately. To use an item, select it from the bag and hold X while using the right stick to move it over the target. You will combine items in the same manner; for example, the flashlight Tove finds in the basement needs batteries. After locating them she needs to put them inside the flashlight. Now that it’s in working order she can drag it to the item she needs illuminated.

Design is an important element in games such as these. I absolutely adore the forest creatures Tove encounters. Gnomes, trolls, and other mythical beings inhabit the world on the other side of the portal. Everything is so gorgeous that I just had to stop and admire it all. Instead of leaning on harsher colors, we’re treated to a softer palate that is deceptive in its simplicity. I worried that the softer colors might make spotting objects difficult and sometimes it does take me an extra click or two of the L3 in order to see everything.

The only downside to this Roki PS5 port is that it fails to use any of the new technology available to it via the DualSense. I would have loved to hear the crunch of snow come via the controller instead of my TV, and maybe let me use the touchpad to select/drag/combine items from Tove’s backpack—things that would have enhanced the experience and made it stand out from Roki‘s other releases. That said, this is a solid puzzle game and one I highly recommend devoting an afternoon or two to.


Roki review code provided by publisher. Version 1.000 reviewed on PlayStation 5. For more information please see our Review Policy.

The post Roki Review – Family Matters (PS5) appeared first on PlayStation LifeStyle.


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