Wandersong, a bard’s tale
How often do you get to play games that capture your attention and end up having enough content to keep you busy for more than just a week? How often do you find a game that is so calming and relaxing that you just do not want it to end? Ever?
Welcome to the wonderful land of Wandersong. A land crafted with much love for all aesthetically pleasing things, be it visual or aural. Greg Lobanov has put his full game dev artistry into this title and it is quite apparent after having played it for a whopping 13 hours. I rarely even play RPG games for that long and yet Wandersong managed to captivate me in a very unique way.
I may be biased in talking about Wandersong since I am a narrative writer for games myself and the narrative in it is basically is what is the best thing about it, but I will do my best to go through all the points of why this little (or actually really huge) gem is worth your time.
Throughout the game, the player is in control of a little bard that we get to name ourselves at some point. Mine was called Kelt, because that was the closest I could do to Kelf. We get to guide the bard through dozens of adventures and try our best to sing our way out of hard situations and seemingly impossible to solve puzzles. The main mechanic of the game is that we can use our mouse or the right thumbstick on our controller to sing one of various notes on a colored palette.
Wandersong of course has a lot tied into this mechanic and tries to play around with things like memory games, puzzles where you need to sing the right notes and song creating where you are called to sing certain songs that you created yourself earlier. It is actually very intuitive and fun to play around with and it actually never felt stale or repetitive. I was somewhat thrilled to be in a situation where I had to sing in order to get myself out of a sticky situation. Each world actually even had its own “puzzle mechanic” that challenged us in different ways.
Singing to various tunes with an on-screen guide though is not the only thing that Wandersong does splendidly well. The visuals of the game are actually very much worth discussing since the simplest of sketches with the simplest of animations seem to be exactly what the game needs. Simplistic and very much to the point, the developer played around with colors more than he did with anything else and the world of Wandersong really came to life because of the amazing choices he has made for each character and each setting. The game may not have flashy graphics but it does what it needs to do pretty well on that front.
Special addition to this part would be the fact that the game had the most fun-looking animated dances for our little troubadour of a hero. These dances just added so much flavor and joy to the game as a whole and I just cannot imagine the game without them now that I have finished it.
The sounds is something I usually try to go past quite fast whenever I write about a music-related game since that is also something that hits very close to home and I try not to be too judgmental about it. However, in the case of Wandersong, it is one of the main aspects of the game and being aurally pleasing as a game is very important, especially for a game that takes that long to get to its end. It was a very pleasant surprise to see that even after so many hours of content, I was still feeling like singing (with my little bard’s in-game voice) along to the tunes that the game played for me. The developer has made sure that the notes you sing are always on the scale of the song that is being played at the moment and you therefore end up feeling quite epically awesome when you sing pretty much about anything while music is playing in the background.
Despite all the tunes and pictures being perfectly joyful in the most fitting ways, the game has something to it that is of more value than any of these artsy things we just talked about. Its story. Even though it is a game that is very fairy-tale like, Wandersong takes us on a journey of realizing what it means to be a hero. I do not want to spoil much of it of course but I have to say that I found it very interesting how the developer managed to show us how each character, even in a fantasy story, can be unique and how they contribute to an adventure like the one our little bard goes through.
There is a lot to take away from the story and there is definitely a lot to learn. The most important lesson in my opinion was that we do not always need to be the “hero of the story” in order to be special and important and that sometimes, the solution to our problem is not straightforward heroism and other heroic actions, but rather a more gentle and kind approach to things.
I most definitely believe that the little bard is one of the most lovable characters you will ever meet in a fantasy story and he is definitely worth your time.
The game does take long to finish. This is both a plus and a minus in my book, since even though I stopped and talked to every single character I met in order to see all of their dialog lines, I also found it somewhat tiring at times to be walking back and forth until I realized what I had to do to move forward with the story. It is very satisfying to see that the game has depth story-wise and it allows itself to build that over time by not ending it prematurely, just because it just “had” to end at some point. That however can become tiresome for some players and lead to eventually dropping the title for something else.
The game is available for 19.99E (or your regional equivalent) on Steam (PC,Mac) and on Switch.
I would say that Wandersong is worth your time and your money since it can take you on a beautiful journey you did not expect to be embarking on when you first bought the game. Allow the little bard to take you on an adventure full of feelings and finely made characters and sing your way through every situation you can possibly imagine.
+ Awesome musical gameplay that makes you excited to be singing the more you play the game.
+ Simple and to the point art style that makes the game to feel playful to the right amount.
+ Nicely developed world and characters with a lot to discover.
+ Very long in duration (to finish) allowing the story to blossom and develop in really nice ways.
– Very long in duration (to finish) can also sometimes make it tiresome.
~ Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis