Road Not Taken Preview
Every once in a while, it’s important to explore the unexplored. That’s the core concept of the new IP from Spry Fox called Road Not Taken, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most promising and unique adventures of 2014. This is described as a “roguelike” game, in which players mustn’t be afraid to test the unfriendly waters of a mystical, fantastical world. You have to delve beneath the surface to fully appreciate the depth of the game, so make sure to be inquisitive. Curiosity so did not kill the cat; it enriched the cat’s life (provided kitty was appropriately cautious).
With its distinctive art style and procedurally generated environment, Road Not Taken is appealing in a number of ways. For instance, while the procedurally generated areas are indeed a focal point, there are also scripted encounters that you can always expect to see. It’s like a very light hand of guidance in an ever-changing world, so freedom combines with a wee bit of linearity. This means that every time you play through the game, you’ll face some of the same obstacles, but the experience will never be exactly identical.
This is a puzzle/adventure title at heart, and there are numerous scenarios to consider. Remember that there are no checkpoints and no lives; if you die, it’s over. Therefore, even your super capable ranger, equipped with great equipment and abilities, could end up face down in the snow if you’re not careful. Stamina is a concern, but it’s one of the few definite quandaries you face in your travels; much of what you’ll see and hear isn’t explicitly defined. Secrets are everywhere you turn, and your natural instinct is to figure things out, right? It’s not just about puzzle-solving; it’s also about tapping into childlike wonder and curiosity.
For instance, forest spirits will hurt you if you walk into them, and then they’ll disappear. But they could prove helpful… The burrowing mole doesn’t appear particularly useful at first, and neither does a decidedly bland and apparently useless object. However, that mole could assist in the movement of heavy stones, and that “useless” object could prove immensely valuable, if it’s paired with something else. The developers are also including a special Book of Secrets, which is essentially a progress meter and a reference guide. This will tell you how many secrets you’ve found, and how many are left to discover.
Crafting will be another critical mechanic, and dozens are indeed secret. The more you learn and explore, the more diverse your survival portfolio becomes, and the more likely you are to survive. Your character has a maximum lifespan of 15 years and each mission you undertake consumes one year of your life. The philosophical angle of this gameplay system should be obvious: How to live our lives as efficiently and happily as possible in the time we’re allowed. You won’t be able to forget about the passage of time, either, as NPCs will remind you, and your abilities may lose their sharpness and effectiveness. Getting older sucks, ya know.
Frosty forests, dangerous dungeons, stinking sewers; they’re all waiting to be explored, and you’ll have to accept your limited life span and tackle everything with zeal. Sitting on your laurels, letting life pass you by, is no way to live. Explore, have an adventure, discover amazing secrets, and above all else, go down swinging. Of course, you don’t get multiple opportunities in life; in Road Not Taken, you can always give it another go. This extremely creative and promising title lands on August 5, and we strongly recommend that you give it a try.
7/10/2014 Ben Dutka