Road Not Taken (2014) is a puzzle adventure game where you help a village from losing its children in the storms. It's a low pressure, but complex, puzzle where you head into the forest to find and free the children by moving items and enemies around. You fail quite often, but that's part of the process as you steadily gain more abilities and understanding of how to solve each scenario.
It's a turn-based game where you move items around a grid to combine them in useful ways and rescue the children. Each time you move something the other creatures move as well. This means you need to keep an eye on various dangers but by interacting with the creatures and lifting and placing other things you trigger passages and door that let you advance.
Care is needed to solve each scenario as moving things around costs energy. Run out of energy and you die in the snow. Throwing items takes more judgement but requires less energy. This, combined with the fact that when certain objects are next to each other they combine to create new items, makes for a head scratching puzzle.
Combine four red forest spirits, for example, and you'll craft an axe. Hurl the axe at a tree and it'll change to a log. Combine two logs and you'll make a fire. Throw a raccoon onto the fire and the resulting meaty stew will renew your energy. There are hundreds of items in the game that interact with each other in different ways.
After each successful day in the forest saving children, you return to the village and can gain useful charms, items and information. You have a house to store items and can even hurl some into the basement to remove them from the game -- and eliminate their related puzzles from the forest.
It's a quirky combination of an emotive story about lost children and an intricate world of puzzles. While you need to have the kind of mind drawn to endless noodling over crosswords to really fall in love with this game, when it clicks it will draw you into an impressively flexible and intriguing maze of quandaries and solutions.
Our examiner, Andy Robertson
, first checked Road Not Taken 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson
and updated 8 months ago.