Triple Town developer Spry Fox has explained how its upcoming roguelike puzzler Road Not Taken will work.
"What might a roguelike look like if it featured a thinker and explorer instead of a traditional warrior? If being clever was more important than being strong? That's a design challenge we've attempted to tackle with Road Not Taken," wrote Spry Fox's chief creative officer Daniel Cook on the PlayStation Blog.
Assuming the role of a magical ranger, you'll need to save lost children in a forest comprised of a series of single-screen puzzles. Each screen's exit is blocked and you'll have to sort out what to do to unlock it. Given that you're a magic wizard, you can levitate any object and toss it around. The kicker is that every action you take depletes your stamina, and when that's all gone it's game over. No restarts. No continues.
Furthermore, you'll encounter all sorts of objects with properties you don't understand, and you'll have to tinker about with them to discover their purpose. "Sometimes I think of Road Not Taken as this giant treasure box of secrets," Cook said. "Some objects magically combine into new objects that restore your stamina or serve as powerful tools for you. Other objects seem totally useless until you discover the context that makes them helpful."
For example, you may see a goat defecating all over. But is he friend or foe? Is his poop a burden or a boon? Only through close observation and experimentation will you unlock the secrets of this goat, and his poop.
It's not all light-hearted humour though. Aside from the fact that you can fail to save several lost, shivering children, there will be other tragic hurdles for you to overcome. Or not. Cook has only teased a darker, more thought-provoking underlying current to this puzzling adventure. "Eventually, with a lot of cleverness, you'll master the forest. You'll rescue all the children. And then you need to deal with the rest of your life, which as it turns out isn't so easy," he noted. "What does 'victory' mean when you're still coming home to a sick loved one, or a stricken friend who can't be helped?"
Good question. I guess we'll find out when Road Not Taken launches in early 2014 for PS4, Vita, PC and Mac.