As a kid in the 90s, I was restricted to playing educational games. I typically had a difficult time completing my tasks for those games and spent most of my time playing Oregon Trail II. While some aspects of the game were fun and engaging (namely learning about diseases pioneers contracted or how wagons traveled across America), most of the time I wanted to shoot animals.
I loved RPGs like Oregon Trail II when I was a kid, but what if you could have all the benefits of an RPG without having to wait for hours on end to play. And now, Roadwarden even has beautiful graphics! But what separates it from other games? The writing, for one thing. It’s amazing. And while it starts slowly – as every RPG should – it takes off quickly into moments that had me hooked. For example, unlike most RPGs where you choose abilities at the start of the game and then forget about them until later in the story when they become important again, Roadwarden lets you learn and grow with your character. And there are other things too – like how your background and personality impact how people react to you – that make it seem more real than I’ve seen in other RPGs. This doesn’t mean this game is easy by any means though: There are plenty of difficult choices to be made along the way that would have other people cursing my name (or shouting at me) on the regular haha!
Choices in Roadwarden have consequences, so it’s important to consider them carefully… or not. Maybe you’re reckless and don’t think about your choices much at all, but at the end of the game I learned that sometimes being too careful can also be dangerous. Sometimes I tried to be a friendly figure, and other times it looked like the only safe course was to intimidate people. Luckily, the format of the game is really open-ended and doesn’t require you to stick with one style. So if you get rash or hamstrung by an obnoxious dialogue with an enemy, you can always do something else later on and not lose out forever.
Moreover, there are three classes – Fighter, Scholar, and Mage. As a millennial, I gravitate toward mages because I prefer to fight using magic as a weapon. We’re the generation that grew up watching Harry Potter, so what millennial doesn’t want that ability? I figured that Roawarden would have its share of mystical beasts, where magic would be better suited for combat than swords and bows and arrows.
Roadwarden gives you a world to explore with more information revealed as you wander and investigate. As a merchant traveler, working for higher-ups to earn rewards, links to various people and places will build up in your journal. The further you get in the game, the more it starts shaping into what you want it to be: questing for the merchant guild or taking on various side missions can all lead to different results depending on what you choose. In this way, Roadwarden is like a novel – but it’s also more than that. I found myself getting really attached to Lute and others; this game really makes an impression on you with how it mixes up emotions and pushes you in ways that might not have been expected. Definitely worth playing!
If you enjoy visual novels and adventure games, Roadwarden will appeal to you, but even those who have never played games like this may find the story, character progression, survival elements, puzzle solving, and risks you must take to progress. As I tried to step away from this fantasy quest, I found it difficult to do so.
In this epic story, fantasy and realism are symbiotic. There are moments of jubilation that intertwine with times of melancholy. Everything you do is fraught with tension and anticipation as you try to understand the plot’s twists and turns. All these things impress on Roadwarden in such a way that it becomes captivating in all aspects, making it the perfect game for me to play during these last few weeks before 2013 ends. It can be found on Steam for PC and Mac, so be sure to give it a try! I myself will continue playing from my desk at home in-between managing projects at work.