The Wandering Village – Video Game Review

TL;DR – We have a remarkable base with an adorable presentation. It is just missing a hook to make it excel. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for this game; the game was in Early Access when reviewed  

The Onbu

The Wandering Village Review –

There is a growing joke in my friend circle that if you want to get me involved in a game, then it better have some kind of farming mode. This stems from my early years growing up on city builders, and to this day, I am always ready to dive into a video game that presents a new twist on the city-building formula. The last one to do so was Surviving Mars, where you built a colony in space, and today we look at a game where you build a city on, checks notes, the back of a giant tortoise.

So to set the scene, you were part of a people that had lived their lives in peace in a small fertile valley full of wonder, but eventually, the same toxic spore that had collapsed the rest of the society found you and you were forced to flee. It was a perilous journey, and just when all seemed lost, you stumbled across a miracle, the last of its kind, a giant Onbu, woken by those same spores. Now you have to build a village on its back, and hopefully, together, you can survive the calamity.

Building the first settlement on the Onbu.
Things start from humble beginnings. Image Credit: Stray Fawn Studio.

Mechanically, The Wandering Village is a city-builder where you need to mine resources, to construct buildings so that you can make more advanced resources and build more advanced structures. All while you are trying to keep both your people and the Onbu alive. This is a very standard gameplay loop that you see in a lot of similar games. However, where The Wandering Village stands out is in its setting.  

This is a post-apocalyptic world with deadly spores that can infect your villagers, infect your Onbu, or infect your plants spreading across your Onbu, destroying all your resources. One of the main ways you can reach a failure state with your game, and it is easy to spiral if things go wrong. Because you are on the move, you walk through different biomes, all with their strengths and weakness. The desert gives you sand and is the safest from the spores, but water is hard to come by, and growing food can be more difficult. The jungle biome might be full of needed resources, but there are floating spore swarms and toxic forests.

Walking through the dangerous jungle biome.
It is a dangerous world out there. Image Credit: Stray Fawn Studio.

To succeed in the game, you must manage all three layers on show. The first is the village, where you have to manage in what order you build the farms, the huts, the dung collector, or the hornblower. Then there is the Onbu level, where you can interact with the giant when you build certain buildings. You will need to feed and heal your host before it dies, you can also try to speed it up or slow it down to miss dangers, but only if it trusts you. Finally, there is the world map where you can see what dangers are ahead, what direction you are heading, and what resources you might be able to plunder.

While its setting is part of what makes this game work as well as it does, it is the presentation that takes it to the next level. We get a combination of 2D villagers and buildings on a 3D Onbu, a juxtaposition that complements each other rather than creating dissonance. It feels like a watercolour painting at times, and it is an art style that works in extreme close up as well as the big zoomed-out world map. This is supported by a musical score that perfectly fits the tone of the game, chants, drums, and warm flutes. Supported by the bassy horns every time you talk to Onbu.

Reaching the end gmae.
Soon you can build a mighty town on the back of your Onbu. Image Credit: Stray Fawn Studio.

When I played The Wandering Village, it was still in its early access mode, but already there was a solid foundation to build upon. I enjoyed trying to work out the puzzle, and I will openly admit that I failed many times before getting to a point where I found equilibrium. It is one of those games where you will hit a brick wall, but there is a drive to get back up and try it again. I think you will go to the max speed after playing a short time, using the pause when you need it. Looking forward, I liked seeing more engagement with the world because the setting is its best feature. It also feels like it needs an endpoint, the statue is lovely, but thematically it is missing a conclusion.

In the end, do we recommend The Wandering Village? Yes, yes, we do. The presentation alone is almost enough to recommend it, and you better believe I activated the ‘Pet Onbu’ option the moment it was available. The puzzle was enough to keep having me come back after each failure, and there was an absolute joy when I cracked it. I am looking forward to seeing how it grows from here.                 

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you played The Wandering Village?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits – All images were created by the staff of The Wandering Village
Project Lead
– Philomena Schwab
Programming
– Micha Stettler, Arno Justus, Naemi Matter, Tim Matter & Max Striebel
Art
– Stephanie Stutz & Markus Rossé
Animation
– Markus Rossé & Martina Hugentobler
UI
– Roger Winzeler
Design
– Arno Justus & Philomena Schwab
Audio
– Claudio Beck
Developer
– Stray Fawn Studio
Publisher – Whisper Games

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