January is a month when everyone is a bit lost. Your money is running out, you don’t know what day it is, and leftovers are the new norm. However, there should be some residual festival cheer to warm you up. Consequently, when I was given Rooten to review, I was taken aback by its melancholy and sinister ways.
Developed by Amortiz Games and published by Samustai Ltd, this is a horror adventure title. What’s more, it’s slow-paced, eerie, and atmospheric. From the off, you can see the influence of Darkwood. This is a horror title that is currently being reviewed by James Refelian, so watch this space. Anyway, let’s get back on track and focus on all things, Rooten.
Rooten has a creepy plot and a creepier atmosphere.
I’m all for an unnerving experience. However, Rooten pushed me into an uncomfortable place. Its secretive characters, unhinged plot, and oppressive environment made my skin crawl. Moreover, you never know if you are doing the right thing as your choices influence the plot. Furthermore, each decision impacts your relationships with the NPCs. Subsequently, you continually question your thoughts and the path you walk.
You are an investigator who is sent to a research station in the middle of a forest. On arrival, there is no welcoming committee and things are unusually quiet. Your transport away from this squalid place won’t return for 7 days, and you must uncover the secrets of this hideous location. By exploring your surroundings, you’ll encounter creepy locals and an even creepier atmosphere. What’s more, there is a mysterious creature that haunts you every day. As such, your survival instincts kick in and you’ll do anything to stay alive. However, you are free to do as little or as much as you like. Accordingly, will you help the locals and complete your task, or will hide and hope that’s enough?
Slow and steady wins the race.
My overriding thoughts when playing Rooten were, “damn this is slow!”. By slow, I mean that a snail moves faster. Now, this was tedious, but it’s a deliberate mechanic from the developers. Accordingly, you can’t run, and the day/night cycle is like pulling teeth. Furthermore, if you’ve completed a task, you never know whether to finish the day or not. Sadly, this leads to plenty of wasted time and unnecessary exploring. Had there been more pointers to assist you, then this would easily have been eradicated.
Alongside this, the freedom to do as much or as little as you please makes it difficult to focus. Consequently, it is easy to lose track of what you are doing or simply lose interest. This was unfortunate, especially as your actions matter. As such, it was too easy to mindlessly wander while waiting for the game to evolve.
An incredible atmosphere.
Where Rooten shines is its ability to freak you out. The short and illogical dialogue often makes you uncomfortable. In turn, this enhances the secrecy of each character and adds to the plot’s many mysteries. On top of this, the environment is just horrible. Its oppressive nature, combined with a lack of guidance, leaves you uneasy. However, this lack of hand-holding is also a negative. Consequently, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, and a problem that isn’t easily solved.
Rooten is disgustingly beautiful.
The aforementioned atmosphere is derived from incredible aesthetics. With a wonderfully hand-drawn style and an earthy palette, it is disgustingly beautiful. Furthermore, Rooten is reminiscent of Don’t Starve. The stark emptiness combined with the oppressive hopelessness really sets the scene. Moreover, the clean lines and the simple backdrop are uncomfortably nice to look at.
What was also great was the stripped-back audio. The developers have created classic jump scares with the use of animal noises and masses of silence. This was excellent, as it could have been ridiculous. Instead, you are haunted by everyday sounds and your imagination.
The control system is extremely well-considered. With limited tasks to complete and a tedious pace, complexity wasn’t called for. Rather, you enjoy a basic but responsive set-up that is supported by a straightforward tutorial.
Theoretically, Rooten has plenty of replay value and longevity. With multiple endings to “enjoy”, and a fast playthrough time, you can experience many finales. However, the slow pace and lack of guidance make you question it. I liked the random nature of each day, but I’m not sure I’d want to return repeatedly.
Rooten is uncomfortable and oppressive, but it’s far too slow.
There is plenty to enjoy whenever you tackle Rooten. Its characters are creepy, its atmosphere is incredible, and the plot keeps you guessing. However, it’s far too slow and the lack of guidance is frustrating. Subsequently, it is a good game, but there is room for improvement. As such, I liked it and I recommend that you buy it here despite its shortcomings! The forest is full of secrets, animals, and monsters. Can you overcome them and survive for 7 days?