Developed by:Spry Fox Published by:Spry Fox Genre(s):
  • Rougelike
  • Puzzle
  • Platform:
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$14.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE Players:1 Release date:August 5, 2014 Reviewed on:PC

    Road Not Taken

    Last month I was able to try an early build of Spry Fox’s new roguelike puzzle game, Road not Taken. What I played definitely showed some promise so I was eagerly waiting for the retail version. After spending time on the Road, I can certainly say that it’s been well paved despite some lingering potholes.

    In Road Not Taken, you take control of a ranger whose job is to rescue lost children. Apparently, the town you are visiting has violent snowstorms every winter. During this time, many of the town’s inhabitants become lost as they venture through the nearby forest. In order to make it through the labyrinth like environments and rescue the kids, gamers will need to solve multiple puzzles while avoiding the creatures living there.

    Solving the puzzles requires you to manipulate different items in each area. This is usually done by picking up an item or items, and throwing them next to another item in hopes of creating something new; throwing an axe at a tree will create chopped wood. Where the item(s) are located in relation to the ranger’s position when picked up, will stay there until dropped. Maneuvering through the connecting environments without bumping into the scenery (with your carried items) is part of the challenge. Another part is the lack of light. Picking up and moving items in dark places will cause the ranger to lose energy/health points. Adding to this are the game’s enemies and how they only move when you do. Getting to a child before a bear does when each step allows it to get closer to its prey can be tricky.

    Beyond the challenging puzzles, the first thing I had trouble with was the controls. At first the controls felt a little weird to me but I quickly got used to it and now actually prefer them. It uses the standard WASD to move and spacebar to lift and throw objects. The part that I had to get use to was the bumping mechanic, which is used to interact with NPCs or items in the forest. It lead to me accidently speaking with NPCs or pulling up explanatory boxes for items multiple times in a row when trying to move around in the gridded areas. Ironically, this is part of why I like the control scheme – it’s simple. So much so, that you can actually play the whole game using one hand.  Being a puzzle game that isn’t timed I can appreciate being able to sit back and relax without it affecting my performance.

    Going back to the basic gameplay, each level is a represented by a year (you’re going back into the forest after another snowstorm). After getting a couple of years in, I started to notice that there were more items included in this version of the game. In the early build it was pretty rare to get an item as a reward as you were more likely to get additional energy for the next year. I got at least double the items from completing the years and building relationships with the towns folks. This in turn would grant me even more items, which were used to make my trek a little less difficult or to smooth things over with someone in town.

    Speaking of the townsfolk, by getting to the later years in the game I was finally able to understand the relationships more. Depending on what relationships you build others won’t be so friendly anymore. Jealously is a problem. You can tell how good your relationship is with someone by looking at the number of hearts over there head (more hearts means it’s a better relationship). If you try to build a relationship with someone that doesn’t like someone you already made friends with you will lose a heart and the only way to get it back is by donating more of your resources to them. Of course, that’ll hinder your ties with other people. Interesting enough, if you become really close with someone, you can chose to marry them. It would seem that your choices over the course of the game matter in the long run. I say seem because it wasn’t apparent how deep things could get; you’ll see different responses/read different dialog from the NPCs but I’m not sure how much it changes the experience from one playthrough to the other.

    One thing that stands out when it comes to relationships is the ability to ban an item or enemy of your choosing from the forest. You see, after playing through the first year, you’ll get your very own house in town. Beyond being used for storing your items, the house also features an unlockable basement. It is here where you can remove certain baddies from the game – after building up the right relationships of course. If you tend to have a hard time with the wolves than you can just ban them. Be cautious though, for everything you ban will leave a spot for something else to take its place.

    While the house is where most of the useful things are I still seem to have some problems with it. I don’t know if it was some glitch but the first time I went to the basement it went into what seemed to be a debug mode. The screen was covered by an overlay of text and code and when I tried to leave my game froze. I don’t know what it was about and it could’ve been a one-time thing but it did leave me a little worried. Also, the way you equip things in the house should be tweaked a little. Right now to equip something on a table, you have to bump into it. Unfortunately, un-equipping an item is done the same way. Just like the controls, it took some getting used to; accidentally removing items got annoying rather quickly.

    All and all, Road Not Taken is a good game. Good puzzle design, rougelike elements, and an interesting relationship system makes for a fun time. The problems that existed in the early build were pretty much handled – nothing really weird happened besides that one case in the house. Bottom line, if you enjoy puzzle games then there’s no reason you shouldn’t own this title (especially with it being free for PlayStation Plus members on PS4).



    A rouge like puzzler with RPG elements that manages to stay simple yet prove to be a challenge. There is so much right in that alone.



    I just love the 2D cartoon graphics. It fits perfectly with the lighter tone of the music in some parts while giving you a nice contrast when the mood gets darker.



    Spry Fox accomplishes their task of providing music and ambient sounds that complement the gameplay.

    Replay Value:


    Not only are there a lot of different NPCs you can build relationships with but the game’s levels are procedurally made. Each playthrough should offer up a new-ish experience!

    Final Score:


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