Roadwarden – Review
Follow Genre: Narrative, Text-Based Adventure, RPG
Developer: Moral Anxiety Studio
Publisher: Assemble Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested On: PC

Roadwarden – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great narrative, ambiance and amount of content
Bad: RNG based combat and events even if infrequent
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Choose-your-own-adventure novels have been around for ages. Being books that function as games, they offer readers the ability to directly insert themselves into the story by making decisions that affect the outcome. Games have taken this formula on many occasions, most notably in the visual novel and RPG genres, which runs somewhat parallel to these kinds of books. Roadwarden is a recently released title featuring a heavy focus on narrative punctuated by this approach to storytelling. Here is what it has to offer.

Story

Roadwarden’s story follows the player, the titular Roadwarden, on a mission to explore the mysterious peninsula the game takes place in. Having a time limit of 40 days, players will have to roam the roads from landmark to landmark, slowly getting to know the land’s inhabitants, fighting monsters, and discovering more as they progress.

The game’s story is not really as much of a story as it is a premise. Players are given almost complete freedom on how they want to approach the narrative and interact with the world. Depending on their previous choices, their interactions with a certain character or piece of the environment may vary. This is all topped off by the game’s impeccable writing, which includes incredibly detailed descriptions of locations and characters, capable of making anyone invested.

Graphics

Being mostly a text-based adventure, Roadwarden’s graphics are somewhat simple. These consist of detailed pixel art depictions of the locations, taking up the left side of the screen. These artworks also act as interactive maps of the location, allowing the player to select their next objective. However, this is all the game has in the way of graphics, never really including character portraits or other content. While somewhat of a letdown, it does leave space for the player’s imagination to picture everything through the detailed descriptions.

Sound

Roadwarden’s sound design is also rather good, with a soundtrack featuring a somber and mysterious tone that is nicely in sync with the overall tone of the story to further immerse players. That said, although the tracks are good, the fact that they continuously loop until the player leaves the area can make them repetitive and somewhat grating after a while. Should a player decide to stay in a single location for a large amount of time in order to explore every option, they’ll be forced to hear the same BGM over and over.

Gameplay

As expected from a text-based adventure, Roadwarden’s gameplay is not particularly bombastic or complex. The core gameplay loop will consist of the player traversing the peninsula’s roads from landmark to landmark, while also paying mind to their health and hunger meters in order to survive. In each of these landmarks, players will encounter different events they may interact with, such as an innkeeper willing to provide food for work, magical trees, or basement-dwelling scavengers.

Depending on their approach to these events, players will obtain different outcomes and rewards. The approaches available also vary depending on the player’s class out of the three offered at the beginning of the game, their items, and other factors. One of these factors is the player’s appearance, directly affecting how they are perceived by other characters, locking and unlocking dialogue options, and changing shop prices.

At the beginning of the game, players will be hard-pressed to make the most out of their meager savings, investing in food, lodgings, and other safe choices in order to keep themselves alive. However, every coin spent in this is a coin that could’ve afforded a crossbow or other items. Should players decide to explore and mess around with other options, they’ll often find out that by helping out at settlements their basic needs will be covered for free. This philosophy also extends to the rest of the game, rewarding curiosity and careful thinking in most cases. Whenever the game prompts the player for input on a way to interact with the world (by literally typing an action like “cut”, “dig”, etc), trying unorthodox approaches can net the best rewards.

Besides dialogue options and character interaction, Roadwarden also features a smidgen of combat. Said combat doesn’t involve much decision-making or direct engagement, instead resorting to behind-the-screen rolls for the outcome based on hidden factors. The same also applies to some events in the game, although luckily both combat and these cases are few and far between. Should the game feature them more heavily, they’d perhaps mar the experience, since the player doesn’t have a say in the outcome.

Conclusion

Roadwarden is an incredibly well-written game that will delight any fans of the genre. With a great narrative, plenty of exploration, and rewarding choices, the game is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for anyone who doesn’t mind reading a lot. That said, this is obviously not a game for everyone, so player discretion is advised. It is also worth mentioning for those who may be used to swapping gaming devices that, as of writing this review, Roadwarden lacks cloud saves. This means that the only way of keeping progress is by manually transferring them. Sold for €/$10,99/£8.29, the game is very much worth its asking price, featuring a large amount of content and a certain degree of replayability.

Personal Opinion

“It’s been a good while since I was as engrossed by a game as I was with Roadwarden. Its narrative is amazing and it brought back memories of binging fantasy novels in an afternoon. While more somber and paused than those novels, the game still provided an immersive world that sucked me in. Although this is a very niche kind of game that won’t engage everyone, it definitely worked for me. Following the advice I read in one of its reviews, I played Roadwarden with a notebook by my side, jotting down discovered information for later. This made the experience even better, making the sleuth-ish parts of it even more interesting. I’ll admit the review itself was deliberately vague on the events of the game, but it is pretty much a necessity, since the mysteries of the peninsula are best discovered by potential players themselves. My only gripes with the experience would be the aforementioned RNG (which can be cheesed by saving beforehand) and the lack of cloud saves, although these are minor issues when compared to everything else the game offers.”

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Roadwarden - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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