Roterra, the medieval inspired, perception flipping puzzle game, developed by DIG-IT! Games, launched on the 31st of January on the iOS store, bringing with it over 80 rotating environmental puzzles, multiple characters, and 3 worlds to head scratch your way through. Costing £4.99 GBP, the app combines simplistic environments with a relaxing soundtrack and challenging levels to create an easy to pick up puzzle app to keep you occupied on your commutes. The game’s story and level design are inspired by an Italian epic poem from the 16th century, giving Roterra a nice backstory which sets it apart from other game of its ilk.
The main purpose of the game is simply to get your character from the starting point of an environment to the golden passage at the end. Getting there, however, is a bit more complicated than that. Each environment is shaped like a cube, meaning you will have to guide your character through the different surfaces, flipping the screen perspective frequently. In addition, blocks that your character needs to traverse can be rotated and flipped to reveal secret paths and alternative ways to traverse the environment. The game camera focuses solely on your character, however, meaning that it can be a bit tricky at times to see where exactly you’re meant to guide them, especially as the later levels become more complicated. After a while, this began to bother me a lot, and although it didn’t make the puzzles more difficult as such, it added an extra level of frustration that wasn’t necessary.
The game follows the story of Angelica, the rightful queen of the land of Roterra, who has been ousted by her older brother Orlando who is being corrupted by the power of the throne. Initially, Angelica is traversing the landscape alone, trying to get back to her castle to reclaim her crown, however, she’s not alone for long. Her brother’s knights begin to pursue her through the levels, adding an extra bit of tension to the puzzle that’s missing in some of the early levels. Stone statues further provide obstacles, as they will only move if their path ahead has been cleared and are designed to get in Angelica’s way until then. In addition, towers and diamond-like objects can be used to reveal previously hidden movable blocks, with pressure plates and switches used to activate certain pathways or blocks in a similar manner.
The puzzles themselves start off simply enough, before becoming more complex as new switches, obstacles, and enemies are introduced to hinder your attempts at travelling through the environments. Puzzle games, especially phone or tablet apps, often need to walk the fine line between too easy and too difficult, and so far Roterra seems to have done a good job of navigating that line. At first, all the mechanics can seem a bit much, but I soon found myself getting used to the different ways of manipulating the landscape and traversing the environment. Once you get the hang of it, using the strange glowing structures and switches dotted all over the levels becomes second nature.
As I mentioned earlier, Roterra is heavily inspired by the 1532 Italian epic ‘Orlando Furioso,’ composed by Ludovico Ariosto. The poem takes place during Charlemagne’s Christian paladins and the Saracen army that invaded Europe. The poem uses stereotypes of chivalric love and women in medieval times and flips them on their head, which helped the developers at DIG-IT! Games create the character of Angelica, a strong female ruler who has to fight her way back to the throne. Roterra also hints at how every story has at least two sides, and that maybe all is not what it seems and that maybe this story isn’t as simple as it first appears. The story is mainly told through environmental storytelling in the levels themselves, but loading screens between levels also show stills which give a bit more context to what’s going on.
While not overly complicated or gimmicky, Roterra uses simple terrain manipulation coupled with the slightly more complicated mechanics such as pressure pads and switches to create an enjoyable but challenging experience. The art style is reminiscent of much older games, making it appear slightly dated but this doesn’t detract from the nice visuals of the level designs. While there are no ads,d the app does cost £4.99 to play which might put some people off if they’re in the market for a fun and cheap puzzle game in the iOS store. Unlike PC or console games, a lot of similar apps to Roterra are free, albeit with annoying ads most of the time, and so I can’t help but wonder how it will do against the sea of competition. Overall, Roterra is a fun and quirky game with a nostalgic art style, relaxing music, and challenging puzzles which will be sure to hit the spot for those looking for a puzzle game they can play anywhere from the bus journey to work or a little brain training before bed.