The Wild At Heart
◉ ◉ ◉ ○ ○(3/5: decent)
Playstation 4
Humble Games (2021)

I wanted to love this little indie game. A little boy in a hoodie and jean jacket runs away to escape a clearly sad homelife (in the 90s?) with nothing but a peanut butter sandwich and a vacuuming backpack that looks like a proton pack for a weapon. The soundtrack is gorgeous ambient sadness and the graphics are YA indie comic cuteness. As you adventure farther into a magical wood vacuuming up trash and kicking stuff you're introduced to a horde of very twee little helpers and forgetful older folk as well as some other delightful characters. All of this should have added up to a classic in my library.

The main game mechanics are vacuuming, kicking, and throwing your little helpers at things. I think that last bit was the one that broke me out of the world. At one point, I learned to defeat an enemy simply by smashing the throw button a ton of times until my little spritelings knocked it out of the sky and then chomped on its stunned body until it exploded. It took a while to learn this and I thought this was a roguelike at first with how many times I was dying against certain enemies. But as I learned to chuck more tiny beings at things in order to win, I learned that this mechanic was kind of annoying, actually. For one, the strategy became just "throw more of them." Worse, though, the spritelings and the other character you control are stupid. They will not dodge on their own and only follow your exact footsteps. This makes them die pretty often if you're not precise or clever in your movements. I think they have health bars and there's a mechanic for healing them, but it is not in a tutorial. The isometric view made it difficult for this aging player to aim and dodge as well, so I found myself frustrated with controls more often than I should be in a game like this. Additionally annoying was the day/night cycle, since I would get close to solving a puzzle and then night would drop (with a very scary musical warning) and I'd rush back to sleep only to have a bunch of monsters respawn and probably kill me or my adventuring companion.

In general, everything else was very nice, but gameplay choices took me out of the chill, sad-ish magic and into annoyed, button-mashing land. If that's your jam, then maybe this game is for you!

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Last updated: 08/02/2023
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