Bröther May I Have Some Trölls
HIGH Waking the bear so it can solve my giant spider problem.
LOW Searching all over the castle for a hot-spot required to progress.
WTF I can’t return the flute to the troll?
The giant monster Röki crashes into young girl Tove’s life (and house) one night, and abducts her little brother Lars. Not being one to give up, she sets off in pursuit, and the best part of her quest to retrieve him takes her deep into a mystical forest populated by creatures from Scandinavian folklore.
Röki’s characters have an endearing ungainliness to their design and benefit from excellent animation. In particular, the way Röki’s mother turns around is delightfully creepy, though this and other animations are a touch overused. The latter can also be said of the voice work — lines aren’t fully voiced, and characters instead make a noise or say a word or two, often a name. This becomes a bit repetitive, particularly in the largely non-interactive story scenes.
In play, Röki’s core setup will be familiar to anyone who has spent time with an adventure game. Tove has an bunch of space in her backpack and the bulk of the adventure involves picking up items and figuring out where they are to be used. Tove can also pick up some loot objects to add to a scrapbook she’s carrying around.
In Roki‘s first main zone, Tove explores a large, forested region mostly on her own. Early on, she’s told to wake three slumbering forest spirits. Along the way she has to interact with a number of charming folkloric creatures, mostly to help them. For the most part, this series of quests has clear goals with logical progression at intermediate stages. The three endpoints involve short areas where Tove must confront memories from her past, which helps to round her out as a character and connect her broken family to Röki’s.
This segment also features a lot of wandering back and forth, but a fast-travel system and a hint system reduce some of the irritation involved. Because of this and the clarity of the goal, this segment felt shorter than it really was, and if just this had been the whole game, I would love Röki.
Unfortunately, the final episode set in the castle where Röki lives suffers from a few shortcomings. The first is a lack of clear progression. Although the main goal of the area (opening a particular gate) is obvious from the beginning, I didn’t understand how anything I was doing was working towards it until almost the moment I had the gate open.
This segment also involves a lot of switching back and forth between Tove and another character (whose identity is a mild spoiler). This leads to a lot of situations where I had to cover the same ground two or three times, and also a number of fiddly and repetitive puzzles that involved doing one thing with one character, switching, doing another step with the other character, switching back, and so on.
Also, although Tove makes a few helpful notes in her scrapbook, the castle area lacked a hint-giving resource like the forest had. As a consequence, I was adrift for large chunks of this section, just going through the motions of doing whatever I could without working towards my ultimate goal in any intentional way. Worse, this area lacks the character insight that deepened the impact of the quests in the forest area.
Röki’s castle segment isn’t catastrophic, but it delivered far less in narrative impact and far more in adventure-game twitchiness than the forest, which was almost perfect. In the woods, Röki is a delight, blending whimsy and sorrow into a splendid modern adventure. In the castle, it is simply ordinary, and as a result of these two unbalanced halves, Röki never quite delivers on its early promise.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Polygon Treehouse and published by United Label. It is currently available on Windows PC through Steam and GoG. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on a home-built Windows X PC equipped with an AMD Ryzen 2700X processor, an ASRock X470 motherboard, 32 GB RAM, and a single GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card (driver version 451.48). Approximately 9 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Animated Blood and Fantasy Violence. There is a distressing sequence early in the game that includes a building collapsing on someone and the main character burning a monster with a Molotov cocktail. It is heavily implied that a character is abusing alcohol. I feel the rating is appropriate. Note: this game features a giant spider.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is displayed in text and there are no essential sound cues. The subtitle text can be resized; the default size is shown in this image. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. Also, if a controller is plugged in KB+M controls will not be prompted on screen.
Currently Sparky works as a scientist in Rhode Island, and works gaming in between experiments and literature reviews. As a writer, he hopes to develop a critical voice that contributes to a more sophisticated and interesting culture of discourse about games. He is still waiting for a console port of Betrayal at Krondor.