This summer has been about the puzzle games, or at least it has for me. This month’s PlayStation Plus update included a new indie PS4 game I never heard a bit of marketing for before, Road Not Taken. It’s a free game (for me), so why not?
I had no idea what to expect, really, and it was a pleasant surprise albeit a bit more frustrating than The Swapper.
Players take on the role of a new ranger assigned to a town actively employing child slave labor. The town thrives on collecting berries out in the woods for its chief industry, and who better to pick these berries than young children? Problem is, the town is also subject to blizzards and wild animals, so sometimes (all the time) not all of the children return from a day of berry picking. As the town ranger, it is the player’s job to retrieve the lost children and return them to their parents.
The children are retrieved via, you guessed it, puzzle solving!
The woods of doom are set up in a grid with almost Zelda-esque dungeon qualities. Each grid has a set of items, sometimes including children and/or parents, and each grid has at least another doorway to another grid. Most of these areas require the ranger to pair up items together to open the doorway. For example, one doorway may require bunching three fir trees together and another may require coaxing five deer to stand together and not move. The ranger can pick up items to move them, but every step while carrying an item zaps energy from the ranger, which is needed to stay alive. As such, it’s pertinent that the ranger try to throw the items instead of carrying them. The items can only be thrown in the direction that the ranger is holding them on the grid, and they will only land when they hit something (or are burned in a campfire).
You save children (or the minimum required) for 15 years, you can retire in glory. Expect to fail a lot, and don’t get attached to anything you find. It won’t be with you when you come back, as you return as a new ranger.
One of the more charming aspects to the game is the fact that the ranger is encouraged to talk to and make friends with everyone in the town. The ranger can even get married. It only makes it suck that much harder when that damn raccoon you accidentally pissed off kills you, and you lose all of those relationships.
I really liked Road Not Taken, but I wouldn’t have purchased it at its current price. If it goes down $5, then I recommend those who do not have PS+ to pick it up either on PS4 or Steam.