Polygon Treehouse’s excellent adventure game Röki is out today, and as you may have seen from my Röki review, I was rather enamoured with it. It’s a lovely, heartwarming and beautiful-looking game, but its soundtrack deserves special mention as well. Composed by Aether, Röki’s music is full of poignant and exquisite melodies that really drive home the game’s folkloric roots and fairytale environment, so I thought I’d pick out a couple of my favourite tracks below. Come on in and have a little listen.
Tales From The Forest
The tune you’ll probably hear most in Röki’s second chapter, Tales From The Forest plays in the glistening snow groves of its enchanted woodland. Its soaring flute somehow makes the thick, silhouetted trees seem even taller as Tove jogs through the snowy undergrowth beneath, and the way it twists and overlaps with the accompanying violin makes it sound like birdsong whistling through the canopy up above. Combined with the running flurries of trilling ornaments bubbling away beneath it, this track is full of wide-eyed wonder that absolutely nails Tove’s childlike perspective on the world.
The old church in Röki’s forest is a huge, imposing wooden building, weighted down by thick snow drifts and crowned with wooden gargoyles on its tall, pointed roofs. A few lopsided gravestones covered in moss lie scattered in the courtyard, and a troll lies still and silent by the stone wall, long since turned to a petrified husk to pose any threat to young Tove. It’s empty and deserted, but a sense of foreboding still hangs heavy in the air, a feeling brilliantly captured by the old-school tonewheel organ Aether uses in the track Forgotten Church. There’s an old kind of solemnity to this style of organ music, and the way it seamlessly takes over from the main forest music when you enter its vicinity makes it suddenly feel like you’ve stepped into a very different realm.
There is a great sadness hanging over Nokken’s tale. A monster created in the depths of a lake, Nokken is one of the many creatures Tove encounters on her journey through the forest, and there is something strangely hypnotic about their musical motif. Is it chanting? Is it the sound you make when you swirl your finger round a half-full glass? Whatever it is, it immediately grips you in a kind of trance, leaving you powerless in its grasp. But even when the drums and the bells kick in to give it a sense of urgency and momentum, there’s no menace here, no sinister undertones. Maybe this monster isn’t so monstrous after all?
A Father’s Path
You get the feeling that Tove’s dad is maybe a little bit useless when it comes to the whole parenting thing at the start of the game, but as the story goes on, you start to understand why. There is a relentless kind of urgency to A Father’s Path, and a determination to never give in. The glockenspiel (or maybe vibraphone?) just keeps going on and on, running through the same sequences as if it’s fighting to find a way forward. But it’s also tinged with frustration as the guitar twangs and slices through that delicate melody floating above it. There is hardship here, but ultimately, I think there is also a great deal of hope here, too.
One of the bonus tracks in Röki’s soundtrack, Bedtime Stories actually plays near the very beginning of the game when Tove puts her little brother Lars to bed. With her dad snoring away by the fire, it’s left to Tove to read Lars a story to send him off to sleep, and hot damn do I love a good, gentle piano melody. I’m a real sucker for these kinds of sentimental tunes, and its warm, lilting notes feel like a big, cosy hug, especially when the accordion yawns in around the 30 second mark to give your heart a literal squeeze.
If you like what you hear, then you can listen to the rest of Röki’s soundtrack on all your usual streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and the likes, and Polygon Treehouse have even made a lovely double-sided turquoise vinyl of it, too, which you can currently pre-order.