Step into a magical world of Scandinavian folklore and experience a heartwarming story of a family lost and regained carefully handcrafted by the Polygon Treehouse that will not fail to tug at your heartstrings. Before starting the game, stay on the main menu awhile and just listen.
The visuals are straight out of a fairytale, bold, clear, charming and sweet, but there’s just a slight undercurrent of dread and uneasiness painted in there to make it lean towards the vibe of the original versions of Grimm brother’s popular folk tales, just packed into more child friendly interpretations. The ambience sets itself as magical straight from the start, as the two siblings, Tove and Lars walk home. And it just builds on that first brush with fantasy, combining excellent ambient sounds and a haunting, beatiful soundtrack, becoming really mesmerizing to look at and listen to as it progresses. Characters don’t talk, it’s not needed, but do make sounds at each sentence and it fits the fairytale style. But at times, the sounds seemed just slightly excessive, never to the point of annoying though, but they could still be toned down a little.
There’s a great amount of locations and they’re all wonderfully done, characters are memorable and they’re all inspiring in some way, even the “monsters”. Chapter 1 is a slow starter, somewhat short and doesn’t really present well what the game evolves into. I might even call it a little deceptive. But that might be it’s strength, for when the tables get turned, the game just draws you in and doesn’t let go until the end. It features 3 chapters and never feels like it’s dragging on. I won’t spoil anything about the story, you’re much better off not knowing and starting as blind as possible.
It plays like a light adventure game, but upgraded and adapted for the modern times and mechanics. You drag and drop items to combine them and use them on the environment. And it features a hint system that highlights interactible objects in the environment. Puzzles are excellent, nicely connected between themselves, never wasteful with your time, but just hard enough to jog your brain a bit and test how much you’re paying attention to the world. Visual environment clues are done incredibly well, inventory combinations are sound and logical, your inventory is never cluttered needlessly and the game flows very smoothly. I was never stuck for more than a few minutes, as I mentally flipped through the world’s locations searching for a clue I missed.
Tove, the main character, also carries a wonderfully made journal you can access at any time, which stores all the info you collect. It really feels like it belongs to a young adventurer. Tove’s thoughts and notes are all carefully jotted down in there, you can see a lovely map of all the locations and look through all the collectibles you found that the game cleverly hides from you in plain sight. You can also see all the achievements, or badges as the game calls them. The badges remind me of patches you would put on your clothes or a backpack.
It’s an impressively poignant game, even more so with the times we find ourselves in right now, touching on themes we have all surely encountered and butted heads with. Some of us more, some of us less, but we all have. And it comes with a message of hope, of finding courage, of having faith in the future and yourself. Kudos to the guys and girls at Polygon Treehouse and all their collaborators for making something relevant, touching, alluring and fantastical. Bring a box of tissues, I certainly needed some.