Road Not Taken review
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Road Not Taken review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on September 16th, 2016
Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: ROAD RAGE
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Puzzle games have to find their method of being challenging. This bizarre game finds a few too many ways to frustrate players.

Developer: Spry Fox

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.3
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starblankstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Road Not Taken is unlike any game I've ever played. Oftentimes, that's a good thing, since all too often we see releases of the same tired ideas over and over again. In this case though, I'm just not feeling it. As much as I want to like this stylish and challenging roguelike puzzle game, it feels like almost every aspect of Road Not Taken tries to push players away from it.

Pave your way

Playing Road Not Taken feels like a combination of a sliding block puzzle and a dungeon crawler with a little bit of Don't Starve sprinkled in for good measure. You play as a mysterious wanderer who stumbles upon a town that needs its children rescued from the wilderness on an annual basis.

Using just your wits and self-damaging telekinetic powers, you move in a turn-based manner between puzzle rooms, tossing objects to combine them, moving them out of the way, or otherwise just trying to ensure your safe passage as you reunite children with their parents.

After rescuing the children, you return to town with everything you collected while you were out, which you can then use to learn more about the town you're in and the people there.

Push and pull

On paper, the premise for Road Not Taken shows a lot of potential, but there are just so many moving parts to the game that make it hard to understand and frustrating to play.

Between charms, secrets, combinations, energy management, random elements, and more, this game demands a lot and punishes you in equal measure if you don't execute. While I can see how learning combinations and successfully executing on them to save energy, reach a child, and open up a new path could feel really satisfying, I found that I was creating additional hazards for myself or just plain struggling with the mechanics an overwhelming majority of the time.

Road work ahead

I'm willing to admit that--from a mechanical standpoint--maybe Road Not Taken just doesn't click with me. Even if you see yourself having a blast with this form of obtuse and dense puzzle design though, you'll still be a little disappointed by Road Not Taken's performance on mobile.

On multiple occasions while playing the game, I experienced hard crashes that reset some of my hard-earned progress. In addition, the game's swipe controls seem over eager to move you multiple spaces at a time, which can cause you to lose valuable energy needlessly in what is already a super challenging game.

The bottom line

Road Not Taken is chock full of cool and clever puzzle ideas that make playing it feel overly complicated and needlessly cruel. Even if you were up for the challenge though, there are some significant technical issues that keep the game from being enjoyable. It's a shame, really.

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