Wearing its inspiration like its heart on its sleeve with inspired artwork, author-titled difficulty settings and Dungeons and Dragon style, character-driven mechanics, Adventure becomes the centrepiece of this storybook inspired tactical role-playing game Wildermyth.
During my time playing this charming character-centric adventure, I was made very aware of the developer’s love of tabletop games and character stories. Wildermyth‘s developer, Worldwalker Games, has taken their approach to narrative as a chance to create a game of countless player-focused and player-led storytelling opportunities: With every adventure or opportunity found playing out differently depending on decisions made and taken; With every new encounter having the potential to change characters looks and abilities.
Adventures have the chance to take drastic new directions, and player choice sits right at the centre of it all.
Right out the gate, Wildermyth offers a great amount of depth to its customization, allowing for each character to be their own person in look as well as personality. Each character has a list of set personality traits that can be rearranged to fit the player’s desire, allowing characters to vary in how they see and approach each unique encounter, and the options players can take, as well as how they interact with each other.
Having these unique characters is further enhanced by excellent stylised artwork, full of both charm and character. Enemies, players and environments each show huge amounts of variation thanks to the unique style reminiscent of hand-drawn pictures from illustrators like Quentin Blake, with each piece of customization and environmental art oozing style. This truly makes each area and character look like a work of art.
With character-driven moments taking the centre stage of this adventure, players will explore, battle and protect a procedurally generated landscape having selected one of the varied campaign options.
Some campaign options offer a narrative, that while slightly lacking compared to the character-driven options available, threads the chapter-based story structure together, The first acts as a tutorial of sorts. Others offer various length games giving players purely generated events and encounters through each chapter, empathising not only great replayability, but also the diverse and interesting character-driven moments that are noted as a key feature of the game.
Gameplay is separated into two different parts, the overworld map management and open area, turn-based combat sections.
The overworld map is where the majority of your time will be spent, planning different tasks for different party members, either as a collective for strength in numbers or separately to divide and conquer.
Don’t think the enemy won’t do the same though. Areas of the map are infested, posing a danger to smaller parties as they expand and take control over adjacent land. There are also mobile enemy armies, called incursions, that will march on towns and take them as their own — further spreading the infestation. Wildermyth is built around making the player use their time and party wisely to save the endangered land.
This where Wildermyth’s focus on character-led story really shines, with players given complete freedom to explore the available map and its procedurally-generated events and opportunities at their discretion.
All actions have consequences, for better or worse.
Combat, while sometimes underwhelming in terms of length and challenge, can still be satisfying, with the interesting approach to character deaths. Players have the choice of letting a character die, to encourage the party with their dying words, or letting them become maimed, a mechanic that further changes the character’s appearance with the possibility of gaining new abilities having survived a nearly-mortal wound.
Despite these shortcomings in the combat, the Mystic Class and its use of magic is a standout amongst the rest. Using the “interfuse” ability, you’ll take control of items in the environment that can be used in different ways to turn the tide of battle. Pulling enemies around the field with plant roots or using fire to enhance party members attacks are just a few examples of the interfuse mechanic during the combat sections.
But there comes a time when heroes must hang up their weapons and kiss their adventuring days goodbye. After years of service, party members retire upon reaching a certain age or after completing a campaign, passing into legend and taking all their gear and accomplishments with them.
This lasting record of adventurers, their deeds — and sometimes misdeed — tops off an already extensive list of ideas and systems which Wildermyth uses to put storytelling before all else.
For a studio’s first outing, Worldwalker Games set themselves a rather bold task, and after my time playing I believe they achieved it. I’ve been playing through a pre-release version, and there’s apparently even more features set to follow before release. With that in mind, Wildermyth shows potential to be a standout experience for narrative and role-playing game fans alike, one that not only delivers on its mission statement but exceeds it.