Back in the 90s when I was a kid, unaware of most that the gaming world had to offer, my mother placed some heavy restrictions on the titles I played. I was only allowed to play games that she considered educational. I would use that term lightly as her idea of “educational” was based simply on the title and brief description of the game, which typically contained words that correlated with moments in history. With this being said, I was able to spend much of my free time playing Oregon Trail II; the 1995 addition to the computer game series. While some aspects of the game were illuminating, specifically learning about diseases the pioneers contracted or how wagons traveled across the United States, most of the time I wanted to shoot as many animals as possible until my ammunition ran out.
Fast forward to 2022 and here I am still loving RPGs like Oregon Trail II, though this format has come far since the 90s. Even so, there was something about Roadwarden that captured my attention even with its simple pixelated style. Perhaps it’s my love for fantasy stories and mysterious vibes, but I became immediately immersed in the plot thanks to some brilliant writing. This begins slowly as you determine which abilities you want to focus on. In addition to this, you’ll make choices as to your background, and your personality, all of which impact your decisions and how you’re perceived by those you meet along the journey.
Choices have consequences in Roadwarden, and it’s important to select responses carefully… or not so carefully if you are more reckless when it comes to these scenarios. Personally, I like to consider my options. Roadwarden gives five response styles to choose from, namely: Friendly, Playful, Distanced, Intimidating, and Vulnerable. Each one has its pros and cons depending on who you interact with, but most of the time I had no idea who was a friend and who was an enemy. On top of words, actions also matter as certain actions can endanger you. Thankfully, the format of the game allows you to go at your own pace, take a breath, and choose the option that you feel is best to proceed.
Additionally, there are three different class types: Fighter, Scholar, and Mage. Personally, I gravitate toward mages because I’d rather fight using magic as a weapon. I mean, what millennial doesn’t want to have that ability when we’re the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. Plus. I figured that Roawarden would have its fair share of mystical beasts where magic would be more effective in combat than a sword or a bow and arrow.
As you discover new locations and territories, find resources, meet people, and encounter threats more information gets revealed about your world. This will all become apparent as you work for a merchant guild to not only earn a reward but also delve deeper into the relationships you build along the way and figure out your ultimate goal as Roadwarden. At times Roadwarden felt less like a game and more like a novel that molded and shaped itself based on the path I chose. I was amazed that such a simple game could stir up a mix of emotions, but I don’t want to give too much away as this is something that needs to be experienced with little to no knowledge of the story and its characters.
Roadwarden is the type of game that you will enjoy if you like visual novels or adventure games, but even those who are unfamiliar with games like this may find something intriguing about the story, character progression, survival aspects, puzzle solving, and risks you are forced to take on your journey. There is so much richness in this fantasy quest that I had a hard time stepping away.
Fantasy and realism are merged in harmony with the sounds of nature and melancholy music in this epic tale. There are moments of anxiety and others of tranquility. Sometimes you feel completely bewildered and have no idea where your fate lies. All these things and more are why Roadwarden is stunning in every way and makes it the perfect way for me to wrap up these last few weeks before the new year begins. Find it now on Steam for PC and Mac. I’ll be continuing this journey from my desk at home.
Gameplay - 10/10
Plot / Writing - 10/10
Design / Visuals - 8/10
A road worth walking!
Beautifully crafted story with attentiveness to character development
Variety of choices that enhance the richness of the world
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