Wandersong

Dance like no­body’s watch­ing.

PCPOWERPLAY - - Contents - PHIL SAV­AGE

DE­VEL­OPER GREG LOBANOV • PUB­LISHER IN- HOUSE www.wan­derso.ng

If you press ‘alt’ at any time while play­ing Wandersong, you’ll do a lit­tle dance. As you travel across the world, you’ll re­peat­edly run into a char­ac­ter who teaches you new dances – new ways to rhyth­mi­cally gy­rate. There is no rea­son for this. At no point are you re­quired to dance. But you will – and I did – be­cause in Wandersong you’re en­cour­aged to just… go for it. To ex­press your­self and have fun in­ter­act­ing with the world and with your char­ac­ter.

Wandersong is charm­ing from the off. I was walk­ing to-and-from the main vil­lage of the first act, and, with­out re­ally need­ing to – with­out there be­ing a puz­zle to solve or char­ac­ter to im­press – I started singing. Wandersong is a game about singing. Move the mouse (or the con­trol pad’s right ana­logue stick) in one of eight direc­tions and you’ll sing a dif­fer­ent note. Through­out the game, you will use this cen­tral in­ter­ac­tion in many en­joy­able and sur­pris­ing ways.

You’ll also use it be­cause it’s there. Be­cause Wandersong is de­light­ful and let’s you em­body a cheer­ful doo­fus who can’t help but sing.

That doo­fus is a bard who learns that the world is go­ing to end soon, when the god­dess Eya sings the song that will cre­ate a new uni­verse. It’s the nat­u­ral or­der of things, and while it sucks that the bard and ev­ery­one he knows will stop ex­ist­ing, there’s re­ally noth­ing he can do – he’s not a hero, af­ter all. Still, Eya’s mes­sen­ger takes a lik­ing to the bard, and sug­gests that – and this is a long shot – he could try to learn the Earth­song from the world’s Overseers. It prob­a­bly won’t work.

As you move through the story, Wandersong re­veals its deeper lay­ers. It starts to sub­vert your ex­pec­ta­tions of this non-heroic bard’s heroic ad­ven­ture. Your grand quest is filled in by the smaller, more per­sonal sto­ries that are the game’s true heart. It be­comes a game about loss, ac­cep­tance, re­gret, friend­ship and the in­ti­macy of col­lid­ing with an­other per­son’s life.

Much of Wandersong is spent travers­ing 2D en­vi­ron­ments, speak­ing to char­ac­ters and de­liv­er­ing set­piece per­for­mances. Your ob­jec­tive in each act is to learn the song that will trans­port you to the spirit world, where you do some light puz­zle plat­form­ing on the way to meet that re­gion’s Overseer and col­lect their frag­ment of the Earth­song.

The spirit world’s plat­form­ing chal­lenges – singing to make flow­ers ex­tend up to higher ar­eas, or to shape pul­sat­ing plat­forms, or to re­di­rect the wind – were my least favourite part of the game.

This might be the most heart­felt plat­former I have played since Night in the Woods. And while I don’t think its mes­sage is as spe­cific or rev­e­la­tory, it’s still a worth­while and clever ex­plo­ration, and a re­minder that there’s joy in the act of play.

That doo­fus is a bard who learns that the world is go­ing to end soon...

If there’s a prob­lem to solve, the so­lu­tion is usu­ally singing.

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