Runo is a cultural indie game and a very unique project based on the Midsommer mythos from traditional Finnish culture. Its intellectual deduction and story track lead you through a complex story that involves the protagonist’s grandmother and family tradition. The story takes place in a cabin next to a forested lake.
The goal is to use clues from your dad’s text messages, your personal journal, and what you observe around you. There is a deep mystical nature to this lake and in a simple quest to find your grandmother’s hidden journal, you’ll encounter a variety of exciting obstacles.
Settle Into Runo
I was a little worried this was going to be a horror game. It’s not. Whenever there is an Itch.IO game with a realistic first-person screenshot, it generally turns out to be something really terrifying. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing that type of game, but at times I am scared of my 3D rendered shadow.
So, it was nice when I started playing Runo to discover that this is a pretty cozy game with a laid-back intro yet some decent thrills after the first act. You may still flinch at some of the scenes involving the spirits of the Midsommer (specifically within the Finnish tradition, occurring approximately around the summer solstice.) These parts of the game are pretty fun though, and not terribly unnerving.
Then you start off there will be items around the cabin and campground that you can interact with to progress the storyline and just learn more about the place. There is no specific instruction on what will work and what won’t, but it is pretty easy to figure stuff out.
Runo is very similar to the classic game Myst. Not so much that it would be annoying for me to say so. I just happen to love that game and enjoyed this one for basically the same reasons. Unravel the purpose of items around the camp, settle in, have a nap, use the sauna. It’s a pretty relaxing game! After a bird leads you on a boat into the lake everything is unleashed though.
Stay Out of the Water
That advice is as practical as it is cliche. Basically, everything that goes wrong occurs after going into the water. Flip, your boat, hop on lake rocks and try to avoid a water monster, as you attempt to reach land again. Water monster? Never mind that for now.
A major plot item involves a musical instrument used previously by the character’s grandmother to tell stories. In this context, it also helps to clear out patches in the lake which you can hop between to make it back to land. Just aim it at a spot in the water and play a note.
Tragically, I got way too distracted as I was doing this and couldn’t make it across the lake. Have no worries though, as I’ve skipped ahead to research the rest on my own. Turns out, this is kind of a big deal. Like, fully blown Midsommer pandemonium takes over the campground. What was grandma up to? I do not know. But I can assure you this has a satisfying story progression.
What’s the Theme of Runo
So, from what I’ve gathered, this is one of those stories that has a really dark and foreboding aura over it but is actually quite heartfelt. To get real technical, the story is rooted in Finnish-Karelian folklore. You might recognize some of its themes in other stories, but a major aspect of the story is reverence for the ancient spirits of nature. Whether that is something that interests you or not, there is plenty to enjoy.
If you want a walkthrough, they can be found on YouTube. It is not a terribly long game though. I am sure you will be able to figure out the rest. It is a nice story about something sentimental, perhaps on behalf of the developer. If you are an admirer of Finnish culture or traditional puzzle games, this is where to go right now.
Also, it is free. Free free, free free free. It deserves your attention as a really compact but delightful indie project and I’m encouraging you right now to check it out.
Well, that’s my review for today. I’ve got some great stuff coming up, and here every Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri. I look forward to talking with you all this week, and I hope you enjoyed this review.
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