Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Video Game Review: Wandersong

Pros: great story, thought provoking, variety of levels, no consequences for failure

Cons: no tutorial or guidance for most battles (so some were hard to figure out)

A young bard has a dream where he learns that the world is ending and a hero is needed to gather the Earthsong that could save everything. The next day ghosts have appeared in town, terrorizing people. He learns he can sing to the ghosts and understand what they say, which starts him on a quest to travel the world and learn the Earthsong.

It starts off as a standard quest, with a handful of puzzles you have to complete in order to solve each level and move on to the next area. What sets it apart is the twist that happens at the half way point, which I won’t talk about as it’s fantastic and I don’t want to ruin it for others.

The story, which starts off fairly superficial and lighthearted, suddenly becomes much deeper and darker, dealing with depression, the weight of expectations (yours and others’), feeling like an outsider, friendship, and what it means to be a hero.

The gameplay is generally straightforward with easy controls. My only complaint here was that there were no tutorials for the musical 'battles', which change each level, so at times I was left wondering what I was supposed to do. Some of them brought a white circle onto the colour wheel to tell you when to sing each note, but others were… strange. There was one level ending where you ping wires and orbs fly off. I’m still not sure what I was supposed to be doing but by fumbling around I somehow cleared it. On another there were white dots, and it was my husband who finally figured out you had to stand close to them and then do a frequency matching once the dots expand. On another level you could sing to attract butterflies but it wasn’t until I found and talked to the correct NPC that I learned you needed to attract 5 butterflies for the necessary action to happen. A more experienced gamer would probably have figured out the controls and actions faster

Another annoyance was that parts of the story were told in song, but the act of hitting the notes made it hard to read the text. In these cases the screen often jerked around to show different characters, which didn’t help, as the location of the colour wheel and text changed on the screen. The lyrics for these scenes were simplistic rhymes and the tunes seemed more like random notes than songs, which was unfortunate as the actual background music was fantastic and it seemed odd that the bard didn’t have more skill.

There was a nice variety to the levels, with one having you pilot a boat using the colour wheel, and another being a magic city where you have to get around without the ability to fly.

As someone who’s not very good at games I loved that there were no real consequences for failing/dying. You simply start again at the last save point (which is generally the next screen/puzzle so you don’t lose any progress).

On the whole I enjoyed the story and am glad my husband got me to play it.

For more information, here's the developer's website.

My copy was bought from the Steam store and played on a Linux computer (note: Wandersong isn't supported on Linux, but Steam play has a beta that does something to make it playable - Don't ask me, my husband sets this stuff up. BUT do check ProtonDB before you purchase something to be sure it will work with the emulator). 

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