Roki has really lovely snow. This is a point and click adventure based around Scandinavian folklore, so I guess snow was a given, but still: look at it. It bunches around doorways and buries houses, it gives shape to the individual stones used to make an old bridge. And sometimes it glitters, a layer of ice crystals reflecting light and offering a sense of depth, a chill within a chill.
This is already a beautiful game. And I think it's going to be a good one, too. Good to play and good to think about. The short demo that's currently available on Steam doesn't offer much in the way of an overarching narrative, but its beats are beats of kindness. You're searching for a friend, the world is fantastical and filled with trolls and trees that carry eyes in their branches, but it also has a sort of sagging material reality to it - an old matress in an empty house is stuffed with straw, floorboards creak, bird's nests rustle.
Puzzling is pleasantly streamlined. A click of a stick causes every interactive object to glow briefly, and discoveries are automatically noted down in an exercise book. You collect items which are stored in your backpack and available at the press of a button, and combining items and using them is drag-and-drop simple.
I won't spoil anything, but the things you're tasked with in the demo encourage a kind of empathy with the world around you and its creatures. On top of that, there's a lovely wistful melancholy to things. You can read the names on the stones in a graveyard, and your character Tove reflects on them for a moment or two each time. The pace is slow for thematic reasons, I think: there's snow everywhere that you have to wade through, but there's also something tentative and slightly wounded about Tove.
If you've been keeping an eye on Roki for the last few years, this demo is a lovely chance to get a little closer to it. Wonderfully, though, the game maintains a careful distance, raising questions it won't answer yet and guarding its broader secrets. I can't wait to play the full thing.
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