This is a Snapshot, a quick, un-scored review of a game we think you should know about.
Ever since I first dove into Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness, I've been enamored with the folklore of other cultures, with learning about the myths and monsters of the world. Getting to do that through the magic of a video game is, of course, a happy bonus. Enter Oknytt, a new adventure game from Nemoria Entertainment.
Just as Shadows of Darkness taught me about the Leshy, Rusalka and Domovoi, Oknytt introduced me to the Alvor, Hustomte and Nacken, complete with detailed lore entries describing each creature's place in Scandinavian folklore. Unlike Shadows of Darkness, however, some of Oknytt's puzzles drove me mad. Oknytt tells the story of a small, furry, big-nosed creature with glowing white eyes. The nameless creature emerges from what very much appears to be a stone-covered grave, where it immediately begins to question the meaning of its existence. From this humble beginning, the player guides the creature on its quest of self-discovery, meeting many mythological creatures along the way.
Mechanically, Oknytt is a pure, bread-and-butter adventure game. You'll spend a great deal of time examining environments and objects, listening as the narrator describes everything in detail. Like many traditional adventure games, it's not always clear what purpose any particular item will serve, and some seem to have no purpose at all.
Along the same lines, the solutions don't always make sense, and often the only way I discovered them was by trying to combine every object in my inventory with every other object, or by trying to use every object with every interactive piece of the environment. For example, a Gardstomte – a helpful farm creature – refused to accept a piece of cloth in trade for a different piece of cloth, despite telling me he would only give me said cloth if I found something to replace it with. I had no idea why I needed either piece of cloth to begin with, but the game had established rules for obtaining the Gardstomte's cloth, so the refusal was irritating. Exactly how irritating it is for you depends on how accustomed you are to adventure game logic, which often isn't very logical at all.
Oknytt's presentation alone is nearly reward enough for sticking with it, though. The game is colored and shaded almost entirely in black and white, with subtle bits of color occasionally bleeding through to punctuate the darkness. The world resembles the work of illustrators like John Bauer and Theodor Kittelsen, names you're likely to encounter if Oknytt inspires you to go googling for more Scandinavian folklore.
The narrator adds to Oknytt's appeal as well. Sounding a bit like Malcolm McDowell, the narrator takes on the role of a traditional storyteller, providing the voices for every character and giving even small details extra weight. At times, his voice couples with the wonderfully drawn scenery so well that you'd swear you were flipping the pages of a storybook, not clicking a mouse. The narrator's portrayal of the small creature is central to the game's charm; his innocence and curiosity make him the perfect vessel to draw players into Oknytt's strange world.
And Oknytt's world is worth exploring, whether it's to learn the small creature's purpose, repair a fairy's broken wings or to bargain with the deadly Nacken. It's not perfect, and those without the patience to click, click, click may grow frustrated. I haven't finished the game yet, but I suspect those who still enjoy a good fairy tale will find a lot to love in Oknytt's storybook sensibilities.
Oknytt is available now directly from Nemoria Entertainment for $10.
This review is based on a download of Oknytt, provided by Nemoria Entertainment.