Gaming

Oaken is a small but smart tactical puzzler

In the words of competitive baking show judges everywhere: if you’re going to go for something simple, you have to execute it perfectly. With its small levels, tight scope and visual polish, Oaken is—or is on its way to be—that idealised Victoria sponge of tactical roguelikes.

Oaken is a simple game. You control your units on a hexagonal grid representing a section of a spirit-infested tree, the Great Oak. Each unit takes one action and moves one tile per turn. They can attack—and counterattack—any unit in their handily highlighted frontal arc, and placing units, casting spells, and using skills all burns a turn-limited resource. That’s it: that’s the game. OK, there’s a little more to it than that, but it’s all supplemental to these core fundamentals.

(Image credit: Laki Studios)

Across three acts, and that familiar roguelike branching route map, Oaken teaches you how to think about playing it. It keeps a strong focus on satisfying short-term tactical thinking, while keeping long-term decisions quietly on the backburner, and strips out a lot of the frustration of death-by-randomisation.


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