Tuesday, October 2

Review: Wandersong [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While there are quite a number of indie titles on the Switch that happen to be family-friendly I think most of the time that’s more a matter of their genre than necessarily by design. While adventures don’t tend to necessarily be violent affairs even stomping on Goombas has a degree of violence to it. In the case of Wandersong the solution to pretty well all problems is a much more gentle one: singing.


Your journey will take you through multiple areas, playing as a pretty carefree and happy bard whose skills may be limited but who manages to get by almost entirely through song. Whether that’s communicating with ghosts, snaking vines around to get to tough spots, or convincing people to help him in his quest it seems music always has an answer. Using the right analog stick you’ll be able to choose one of your 8 notes, each of which correspond to a color. Whether your interactions are similar to the classic memory game of Simon, repeating someone else’s pattern, or using the music or visuals to tell what notes you must match or counter this mechanic is explored in a variety of ways over the game’s relatively lengthy runtime.


Aside from making creative and terrific use of music there’s a real charm to the paper cutout visual style and the little bits of dialogue from the many different characters you’ll encounter. Your main character’s naive optimism is met with reactions all over the spectrum, especially before he’s able to win them over with his help. Small touches like the ridiculous dance he can do all add up to make the package endearing if you don’t mind it all being a bit silly.


My criticisms of the game, aside from noting that it won’t be a match for all tastes, are relatively minor but worth being aware of. The game isn’t generally about challenging you with difficult puzzles or action, it’s really about the experience and enjoying yourself along the way. That said, there aren’t always great cues for what you need to do or where you need to go. I had particular difficulty one time resuming in the middle of an area after a break and struggled to figure out what I was doing. It’s not a major problem, thankfully the areas are all relatively small so you can’t get too far off track, but it was at least a temporary frustration. Aside from that and an occasional bit of weirdness with being able to jump or interact with things in a given space everything was smooth and enjoyable.


With so many games focused on pushing your skills or the system’s resources to the limits it’s refreshing to take a break and enjoy something with a slower pace filled with optimism and positivity. Much like many of the characters your bard will encounter in Wandersong if you give it a little bit of your time you’ll likely have a hard time keeping it from making you smile. It’s creative, joyous, and worth taking a journey with to help raise your spirits.

Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • A thoroughly positive and enjoyable journey
  • Makes clever use of music to solve a wide variety of problems
  • There’s a lot of great character interactions to enjoy

Cons:
  • If you’re seeking a challenge it’s really not geared for that
  • Cues on what you should be doing next aren’t always clear
  • Some areas require a bit of walking back and forth, which can be tedious