Roadwardenby Aethyna Sep 15, 2022 | 1 Votes | 79 Played | 0 Reviews 10 rate Traverse a mysterious peninsula to hopefully set up profitable trade routes for the merchants back in the city of Hovlavan. However, things aren’t that simple – the roads are dangerous, the locals are untrusting of someone “from the city”, and there’s also the mystery of the missing predecessor that you may want to solve… Play Now Similar Games Played
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Roadwarden is a text-based adventure game where you play as the new Roadwarden assigned to a mysterious peninsula to hopefully set up profitable trade routes for the merchants back in the city of Hovlavan. However, things aren’t that simple – the roads are dangerous, and the locals are untrusting of someone “from the city”. Plus, there’s also the mystery of the missing predecessor – the previous Roadwarden – that you may want to solve…
Being a Roadwarden is a thankless job.
They travel the oftentimes dangerous roads to deliver messages between villages and cities, assist merchants, burn corpses to prevent them from reawakening as the undead, and get rid of beasts and highwaymen that trouble the locals for a price, in a way that’s similar to the role of the Witcher. As described in the game, they “live on the road, die young, or retire early”. There’s really not much in between.
In this game, you play as the new Roadwarden who is sent to a mysterious peninsula to hopefully set up trade routes for the wealthy merchants back in the city of Hovlavan. However, not much is known about the peninsula and the roads are dangerous, even for a seasoned Roadwarden let alone someone new. Even if you do find settlements ready to trade, they are fairly untrusting of someone “from the city” and you’d be expected to help them out with various tasks before you can earn their trust.
There’s also the mystery surrounding the disappearance of your predecessor – the Roadwarden who seemingly vanished into thin air – by tracking his journey across the peninsula. Dead or alive, you simply must know what had happened to him.
Before you begin your journey as the Roadwarden, you’ll need to choose one of three difficulty levels. Casual is best fitted for players who want to just enjoy the story and has more advantages right from the start, such as having more cash, no time limit to explore the place, and more forgiving quests/encounters.
The Standard mode is the difficulty that the game is designed to be played in. It features a 40-day time limit and regular starting conditions as well as events. For more experienced players, especially hardcore fans of gamebooks or other text-based adventure games, Restrictive mode will give you a fair but tough challenge, with a much shorter time limit (30 days only) and your character will also sustain increased damage during nighttime.
The game also helpfully points out that it’s not possible to change a difficulty level after you start, so it’s best to go with the level that you think you can reasonably enjoy the game in and save yourself the hassle of having to restart the entire run while mid-game.
Your journey starts with an encounter with the soldiers – or at least, what remained of their group - who were sent there months before to set up an outpost. Here, you’ll then be asked about your character class and its religious affiliations. The game features three main classes, namely the Fighter, the Mage, and the Scholar.
Naturally, Fighters will have a better time during encounters that require physical strength but this reliance on their strength means that they won’t do as well in situations that don’t require violence or strength. Mages can tap into the magical force called “pneuma” and can cast spells that can, for instance, detect magic in an area, heal faster, or even divert the attention of a beast, but pneuma is limited so they might want to use it sparingly.
Last but not least, the Scholar is the weakest class of the lot, but it comes with some really nice benefits. You see, scholars are more knowledgeable about the peninsula and might obtain useful insights that other classes won’t be able to get without additional help, some of which might be costly. Regardless of which class you choose though, know that you’ll have to play to your strengths as much as you can in order to survive or, at least, get the upper hand in certain situations.
Your chosen religious affiliation doesn’t seem to impact your relationship with other religious factions in this game much, though, I reckon it’ll play more of a role (mostly a negative one) if you choose for it to be, as in mocking the pagans when you could have just chosen not do so.
As with any text-based adventure game, dialogue choices are one of the main gameplay aspects which will, depending on the dialogue option chosen, typically change the path of the story. In this game though, some of the dialogue choices you get are based on the tone. You can, for instance, opt to go the “Friendly” route, which usually is the safe choice, but the “Playful” tone might help you win friends more easily if they are open to jokes. You can also try to intimidate people or express what you need in a more distanced tone. Some characters, on the other hand, may be more sympathetic if you appear vulnerable and will help you.
There are also some interesting details that you may pick up from talking to other characters just so you know which dialogue choices to avoid when you’re talking to the character in question just so you won’t anger them… or worse! From time to time, you may be asked to type out certain text whether to address someone or to ask about someone. There’s no guessing “the answer” here in this case, which makes it all the more important to really pay attention when you’re reading and not just skim through the text.
Of course, it’s impossible to memorize every piece of text in this game in case there’s some valuable detail you might have missed. This is why the game helpfully provides two features to help you. The first is the Journal where you can easily revisit notes that were added by the game itself to various people, creatures, or places that you’ve encountered. The second is the Archive where the game keeps a record of all recent text so in case you clicked too quickly, you can simply head over to this section and revisit the part of the text you’ve missed. However, there’s a limit as to how far back you can go.
In addition to dialogue choices, you’ll also sometimes be presented with several action choices when faced with a certain situation, such as a combat encounter. Some of these choices could require the use of a dice roll, which may go either way – a positive or negative outcome - for you and there’s no real way to influence it since the dice roll isn’t tied to any stats. If available, you may get to use your class’ strengths, be it literal strength, magic, or potions/knowledge, to resolve any situation as well.
In this game, there are a few stats that you’ll need to pay close attention to, lest you end up vulnerable to danger, or worse, dead. Besides the usual health, there’s satiety so you’ll need to make sure your character isn’t starving; armor and weapon durability, and most interestingly, your hygiene, which is completely understandable, of course. After all, no one would be happy dealing with someone that stinks to high heaven, even if that someone is a Roadwarden.
All of these stats are shown in a pie chart-like format, instead of percentages or numbers, which makes it very easy to discern which stats you’ll need to worry about at a cursory glance. If it’s health, then you can restore some by getting some proper rest or a potion; but if it’s your satiety, then you’ll want to consume a ration or pay for a meal at an inn. Item durability can be restored by smiths, usually located in towns.
Hygiene, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier. You can either purchase some cleaning items to clean yourself and your clothes up, or spend dragon bones (in-game currency) to get someone else to do it for you if the option presents itself. Naturally, if you don’t have both the necessary cleaning items or the money, you can always get a quick rinse in any nearby river, pond, or clean-enough water source just so you’re presentable to others.
Not to mention, the game also has a subtle “clock” of some sort above these stats, showing what time of the day it is. When it’s nighttime, you’ll naturally want to seek shelter as soon as you can just so you can have a good night’s sleep. There’s an inventory where you can view and use any items you carry around with you, and a map that you can access during your travels as well.
As a fan of gamebooks since childhood, Roadwarden plays like a much more interactive gamebook with a peninsula that’s very fun to explore and stories that are worth revealing. The progression here is very story-driven, and although the game does help you note down important points that may help you in your journey, you will still need to pay attention to the dialogues and jot down some notes of your own, which in my case, I did it using some good ol’ pen and paper.
That being said, I’m a bit disappointed that the game doesn’t show me what dice roll I got for my encounters though, which can sometimes make me feel like the game is rigged against me. It might be a good idea to show the actual dice roll in the name of transparency. There are also a couple of typos and errors that I’ve spotted, which frankly speaking, isn’t a huge biggie.
Despite being a text-based game, Roadwarden features some amazing pixel graphics that help illustrate the many locations you visit. The map is also very well designed, clearly showing the names of each place with a little icon to indicate what’s there, be it a village or a creepy blood-sucking sacred tree.
The game even comes with various soundtracks, each perfectly matched to the events that were being described in the text as it plays in the background. The music really helps immerse the player in the game.
If you’re a fan of gamebooks or text-based adventure games, Roadwarden is a title you’ll want to dive into. Not only does it put you into the shoes of a tenacious Roadwarden with a mission, but you’ll also get to explore a peninsula filled with dangers, strange cultures, and colorful characters that you can help along the way, as well as a choice-driven story sprinkled with the occasional moral dilemma.
Roadwarden is a true gem in the text-based adventure game genre and you can rest assured you’re set for an incredible journey if you do decide to purchase the game!