Developer and publisher Owl Sanctuary Studios presents Roll+Heart for review. Roll+Heart is a combination tabletop and dating simulator, taking place partly in the real world interactions of the gaming group with your avatar and within the Dungeons and Dragons (ish) game world. Through lighthearted interaction and wit the player may go on several dates with those in the group with the possibility of romance on the horizon.
The soundtrack for Roll+Heart signals gentle fun and the rest of the game tries to follow suit. A bevy of colorful options, body shapes, and gender fluid avatars provide a good amount of customization options for your player. Roll+Heart moves straight into introducing the tabletop gaming crew led by the (and I’m tipping my preference here) absolutely adorable game master Garreth. Turn-based combat soon follows with the player given control of everyone’s character on the table while they engage in conversation outside with the player’s IRL character able to go on dates and chat online. A few sessions, a few dates, and eventually the stories on the table may spark a few outside.
Roll+Heart has an undeniably adorable art style, and Owl Sanctuary Studios commitment to providing a fun number of gender fluid avatars gives it the kind of variety other character creation suites should take note of. That, however, is the first ten minutes or so of Roll+Heart, and the enjoyment to be had with it peaks during this time.
It’s not for lack of trying. There are some fun interactions with the gaming crew that, at least in my play through, dipped into potentially haunted dog and cryptozoology territory. I also liked seeing a bit of uncommon terminology here in the USA (loo, for restroom, is something I just get a personal kick out of seeing).
But a big “wuh oh” sign went up when I perused the game options prior to my first session and saw that the tabletop battles could be skipped entirely. Why would you make a game billed as part tabletop experience and have an option to skip it? Turns out it’s because the tabletop portion is garbage. The sparse options for the characters you control are badly explained and rarely function as it often took multiple clicks to get the commands to work. Even when they worked, the interface made it difficult to even target what I wanted to target. This created a major frustration when, for example, my character with full HP went to heal someone at the precipice of death and then healed…themselves.
The other troubling sign was the unusually long load times between the tabletop gaming and dating simulation portions of Roll+Heart. I normally don’t notice this sort of thing but Roll+Heart included a bunch of messages in an attempt to be cute about the setup load times for the tabletop portion. This was cute the first time but the second it was an annoying tactic to try and hide the long wait from one ostensibly simple setup to the next.
General tech issues and game play confusion continued as Roll+Heart didn’t let me romance the person I wanted to with no explanation as to why. Then, in the most annoying glitch, I found out I was able to go on a second date after a session for the cost of restarting the entire day. Knowing what buggy unfun tabletop combat awaited me made the decision to turn half the entire game off and, fittingly, seems appropriate for half of the possible score on our scale.
Roll + Heart
Charm and art can only get a game so far, and when Roll+Heart gives players the option to skip half of what little game play there is, a small alarm should have gone up for the developers. Roll+Heart has a lot of good intent behind its design but can barely stick the landing with what little game play it has. Add the troubling technical loops on top of it, and it's even harder to get through a single session let alone a courtship over several days.
- Charming and colorfully varied art style bolstered by odd fun touches in the writing.
- Simplistic and badly implemented tabletop game play in this game partially about tabletop game play.
- Charm-wrecking bugs forcing the player to replay sections they just played with poor responsiveness.
Prognosis is fair.