A dark fairy tale for the next generation
Scandinavian folklore and contemporary figures come together in a dark fairy tale to tell the story of RÃ¶ki. Some players may have already lived the story, but for the first time, RÃ¶ki is available on next-gen systems.
Polygon Treehouse’s independent team has managed to take its story and refine it beyond what was previously possible. RÃ¶ki initially released on PC and Switch in 2020, and while the game is still the same at heart, its presentation is fresh.
New graphics features in RÃ¶ki on PlayStation 5
What separates this review from RÃ¶ki’s passing impressions is the next-gen hardware. The development of a new version of the game for the Xbox Series X / S and the PlayStation 5 allowed for new leaps in the presentation of the game.
Throughout the game on PlayStation 5, the experience went smoothly and there were no bugs to report. My immersion in the game was locked down the entire time, and Polygon Treehouse did a phenomenal job making sure the gameplay didn’t have any issues.
RÃ¶ki is also running at sharp 60fps now, with the option for 4K. The quality of the visuals is evident and the unique art style of the game suits it even better.
A beautiful world enhanced by next-gen hardware
It’s clear how well RÃ¶ki performs on the PlayStation 5, but the visuals and music are what really made the world memorable as a gamer. Like many indie games released with critical praise, RÃ¶ki manages to find a unique place in an astonishing landscape, which in this case is inspired by Scandinavian folklore.
The visuals are fantastic from the start, but as players take Tove through the portal to a new world, every nook becomes a work of art begging to be appreciated. In addition to the visuals, the music is atmospheric and heartfelt to the point that it becomes part of the storytelling itself.
The environmental storytelling and level design of the game only enhances the ability to take in any scenery.
Puzzles and exploration in a mystical yet familiar world
Roki’s gameplay and core philosophy deals with environmental puzzles in a world similar to a Metroidvania theme. A lot of time is spent looking for clues, collecting items, and using knowledge of the world to progress.
Whenever an item is picked up, it goes into Tove’s backpack and can be combined with other items to create key pieces of progression. RÃ¶ki uses a drag and drop system with traditional movement in order to play throughout the game.
Overall, RÃ¶ki doesn’t add much in terms of new gameplay. Anyone looking for real innovation in gaming systems will not find it in this story. While this tends to be negative for some, in this case RÃ¶ki doesn’t necessarily need that extra layer. The game knows what it wants to be, and Polygon Treehouse has made sure the aspects included are top notch.
One aspect where the game tends to really lag is climbing. Some puzzles will require Tove to climb, which is a very slow climbing animation that the player has little control over. Cases like these where too long animations make the puzzle length double certainly interrupt the flow of the game.
The quest system also sometimes lags the game out as there is no real way to track locations. Using the journal can help, and most of the time it’s okay, but players had better make sure they are careful or they could easily get frustrated. The journal, especially with collectibles, didn’t seem to be an integral part of the user interface. But those issues were really minimal compared to how the gameplay felt throughout.
Perhaps the best aspect of the gameplay was the progression of the puzzles and the need to use all the tools. Gameplay and puzzles never felt stale. Instead, they were always changing. If a roadblock was encountered, it was essential to remember where I had been or what tools I had picked up. RÃ¶ki encourages exploration and experimentation to move around the world.
Folklore and fairy tales brought to contemporary history
The story of Tove and RÃ¶ki is one of the best parts of the game and leads players to the end. There are always two main narrative threads within RÃ¶ki that tend to blend together or become informed.
Dealing with loss and dealing with haunting memories is at the heart of RÃ¶ki as an adventure game. The further the players go, the further Tove goes in his quest to truly cope with the loss of his mother.
As a goal, Tove must save his little brother Lars after he is kidnapped by a huge black monster at the start of the match. The monster, named RÃ¶ki, proves more complicated with the world Tove falls into to save Lars.
As Tove deals with her loss, despite the pain, she finds herself entwined in a world filled with Scandinavian folklore. The trees have eyes, the trolls once roamed in pairs, and the Jotunn (giant) guardians are hidden in a sleepy slumber.
At any point in the story, there is a progression throughout the epic fairy tale. There are new stories about supporting characters in their own journey against loss, and then the main stories that are extra steps to come to terms with Tove’s parents.
These themes of adventure and learning to forgive and adapt constantly support each other, and the final act of the game pulls it all together into a beautiful epilogue.
RÃ¶ki had already proven itself as a game with many qualities and dimensions when it was first released in 2020. With a next-gen upgrade that allows players to seamlessly experience the dark fairy tale, RÃ¶ki has gone even further than before.
For just $ 20, RÃ¶ki is certainly a steal and worth the time it takes to venture into old folk tales. Tove’s story is just one more example of what independent teams are capable of, and Polygon Treehouse has brought this gem to the latest consoles.
RÃ¶ki PlayStation 5
Revised on: PlayStation 5 (code provided by Polygon Treehouse / United Label Games)
Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X / S
Developer: Polygon hut
Editor: Plain label sets
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Exit: 28 October 2021