Oknytt is a point-and-click adventure game where the player takes the role of a small, seemingly insignificant creature, leading it through a dark world riddled with obstacles to help it find a place to belong. The game takes place in a Norse medieval world and contains a number of beings and areas inspired by Swedish folklore.
Oknytt – What We Think
Oknytt, a fairly straightforward, yet highly stylized point-and-click adventure from Nemoria Entertainment puts you in the body of a small creature brought to life (or possibly back to life?) on a dark evening for unknown reasons by unseen forces. Compelled to find a purpose for your existence, you are soon traveling through the nefarious realms of Swedish folklore and fairy tales. Should you search for meaning in the dark woods, or stay far, far away like grandma told you?
Gothic and Gorgeous
Oknytt’s monochromatic visual treatment, inspired by the art of John Bauer, is absolutely brimming with charm in every facet of its design. While I myself am unfamiliar with Swedish folklore, I can tell you that every environment and character delivered in this game has been given an expert level of detail and polish. Worlds, items and encountered characters are all appropriately Gothic and grimy looking, while still managing to maintain an Edward Gorey-esque charm. Small touches of color are used to highlight the elemental uses in the world (read the controls section for more on this) and while incredibly effective on an aesthetic front, it also serves doubly well to help guide you through some of the game’s tougher puzzles.
While I wholly approve of the graceless theme, there are some minor occurrences of items that you need to obtain blending in “too well” with the game’s rich scenery. Though I don’t expect a glowing halo to be used around all usable items, it would be nice to have some kind of a hint at what can and can’t be used. Like I said though, this was only on a couple of small occasions.
Creakings and Cobwebs
Creating the small unnamed player creature as a 3D-based character model is an interesting choice. Though the design blends in astoundingly well with the stylish 2D-painted backgrounds and characters, it seems as though the creature could have just as easily been designed in the same 2D space for consistency’s sake, since there are no real extreme animations that the model needed to perform. On the plus side though, the model does allow the game to transition into some stylish, if not simplistic, 3D videos to conclude every chapter of the game.
With the visual elements addressed, I’d like to focus on the game’s strongest element – the sound design. For me, this is saying a lot as I usually (no difference in this game actually) am mostly drawn into a game by its visuals. However the real allure here comes from the expert voice work and music that accompanies the small creature throughout the entirety of its journey.
From the wonderful Vincent Price-like narration to the hauntingly beautiful, serene sonnets hovering peacefully like the surrounding aether, there isn’t a sound out of place, and absolutely everything fits into the world the way it should. Interestingly enough, Brian Hall who lends his talent to the narration also does the voice work for every other character in the game; while after a dozen or so voices, some of them do actually seem to get a little bit repetitive, all of them are delivered with distinctly engaging personality.
Tried, True and Tuned
Setting Oknytt apart from standard point-and-click fare are the elemental “powers” bestowed upon the small creature, and these in turn become the crux or cornerstone of the level and puzzle design. You are given access to four elemental runes that are displayed along the bottom portion of the screen. Pressing these runes on any screen will trigger an appropriate visual response based on the surrounding scenery (rain will start by pressing the water rune etc.). Though some of the effects are superfluous (yet splendid) often you will be called on to use your powers of deduction and reasoning, to summon the elements in your favor.
The Odd Stubbed Toe
While all features and functions work as necessary, it’s in the gameplay mechanics and puzzles that the game reveals its few flaws. Certain things felt rushed at times, like in the way that if you attempt to do something, and it doesn’t work. Another is that the narrator has the same response for absolutely every attempt. Though it would be fine to have a standard response to guessing wildly at things, it would also be nice to be prompted by the narrator if you were getting close to the solution of a certain puzzle, rather than the repetitive response of “Hmmm… no, that’s not how it was.”
In a couple of situations, the solution to a puzzle seems all but certain, only to have the game force you to take a second arbitrary step to the item in question in order for it to work as the story intends. I don’t mind having to take the extra step, but I would like to be told on some level why the slight leap in logic needs to be made in order to progress.
Additionally, there is actually one puzzle in the game that relies far too heavily on an almost impossible to use audio cue (I’m looking at you, “chain puzzle”). It’s a fairly frustrating sequence, and was actually the only point in the game that had me ready to walk away for a bit, as opposed to the more often wonderful-ness compelling me forward.
These moments aside, all of the puzzles and riddles are handled with class and quality and the game is a joy to think your way through. You’ll feel insignificant, yet accomplished all at the same time.
Dark but Dazzling
Oknytt is a fantastic adventure that any fan of the point-and-click adventure genre should spend a few hours with. Although there are a few small aggravating moments sprinkled throughout, the charming story, whimsical art design and engrossing soundtrack are more than enough to keep you focused on your ontological odyssey. The light at the end of this tunnel shines bright enough to outweigh the few shady corners, and I can honestly say that this game makes me want to read Swedish folklore…and I’m fairly certain that I’ve never said that before.