Preview: Roadwarden by Moral Anxiety Studio

A story can have a massive impact on how you experience a game. Some games completely depend on their storytelling. Recently I tried the text-driven game Roadwarden. This is an illustrated text-based RPG that uses isometric pixel art and combines mechanics borrowed from RPGs, visual novels, adventure games, and interactive fiction. In this preview, I will give my first thoughts about this upcoming story-driven game for Steam. If you love stories, this game might be your piece of cake!

Roadwarden introduces us to the so-called roadwardens. A “roadwarden” is a person who travels between human settlements in a fantasy realm where nature is stronger than humankind. In this videogame, you will enter an unknown realm trying to learn as much about it as you can to complete your mission from the city’s merchant guild. Although the game seemed a bit sketchy at the first glimpse of the Steam page, it is quite entertaining once you start. Especially if you love story-driven games!

Story reveals itself bit by bit

The story reveals itself bit by bit. As a result, you are also constantly driven to read on and just treat this game as an interactive fiction book. Not bad. In some aspects, the game reminds me of classic visual novels. In addition, the game offers more than just a story. The game also features an inventory system that adds an interesting twist to the mix. You can choose how friendly you are to other characters. Maybe a little too friendly. With the choices I made, more and more food disappeared from my inventory. I almost felt empty-handed by my own choices. My character was too good for this virtual world.

With every choice you make, you will experience the story of Roadwarden somewhat differently. Currently, it is unclear if the decisions you make will matter in the longterm. I hope they do! If choices really prove to have a lot of influence on how a story develops, that would certainly add to the replay value of the game. It would be awesome if the game will offer multiple timelines depending on the decisions you make.

Roadwarden has potential

Currently, it is difficult to judge the quality of the story. The demo only gives a small glimpse of the storytelling aspects of this text-based game. So far not many memorable things have happened that haven’t been told in thousands of other stories. Still, there is a lot of potentials for Roadwarden to become a game that can deliver a unique gaming experience because of all the story-driven options and the feeling that you have a lot of influence on how the story of the game will develop.

You can see that the developer already spend a long time in adding pictures in-game to support the story. Still, when the foundation of the story is finished, it is useful to strengthen more aspects of the game. There is one missing aspect that has a massive effect on whether this game will be enjoyable in the long term. Currently, the game lacks the atmosphere and still feels a little bit boring. There are plenty of storytelling games that do a better job of creating tension while only reading text onscreen.

Improvements to be made

Atmospheric experiences largely depend on in-game music and sound effects, which are currently not existing. It would be of great added value if a calm reading voice could add extra strength to the text. I imagine how sound effects like the blowing of the wind, rustling of leaves of trees and sounds that match the choices you make during the game, will massively improve the whole user experience. If there is no improvement in this part of the game, I would prefer to grab a book or narrative-driven game.

Roadwarden will release later this year. Currently, you can play a demo on Steam. Give it a try for free!

Leave a Reply