As soon as I saw the first promotional material for Wandersong, I immediately added it to my Steam wishlist to ensure I wouldn’t forget about it. Just from what little promotional material there was of it, I had a feeling that it would prove to be a positively delightful game. I’m quite pleased to report that it exceeds my expectations, at least as far as I’ve played up to this point.
The game begins with your character, an initially nameless bard, having a dream in which you meet a messenger of the goddess Eya. Eya created the entire universe by singing a song. The messenger informs you that Eya is preparing to sing her song again to remake the universe anew, and should that happen, the world as you know it will end. In a panic, you ask the messenger if there’s anything that can be done to stop the world from ending.
The messenger nonchalantly mentions that if someone were to sing what’s known as the Earthsong, Eya would be convinced not to remake the universe. However, the messenger also doubts that this can be done, as the Earthsong requires all life on Earth to be in perfect harmony. If this cannot be achieved, the song won’t work. You’re nonetheless convinced that, as a bard, you can successfully sing the Earthsong and prevent the end of the world as you know it. Now that you know what must be done, you embark upon your glorious quest to learn and perform the Earthsong.
At this point, you get your first experiences with Wandersong’s unique gameplay mechanics. The main mechanic requires you to use your wide vocal range to match music being played in your environment in order to solve puzzles. Thankfully, this is considerably easier than it might sound. Assuming you’re playing with a controller, all you’ll need to do is move the right analog stick to the position which corresponds to the color of the note being played, and you’ll match that note. There’s no limit to how long you can hold each note, which comes in handy during certain puzzles.
Two things about Wandersong struck me almost immediately and served to further my enjoyment of the game, its art style and its sense of humor. As far as the latter of those is concerned, you’ll quickly find that most of the NPCs with whom you can interact make no secret of the fact that they doubt a lowly bard such as yourself could successfully perform the Earthsong. This inspired me to do my best to prove them wrong.
While I’m on the topic of Wandersong‘s sense of humor, I feel compelled to mention that you can intentionally annoy most NPCs you come across by continuously singing near them, which amuses me to no end. Additionally, there comes a point in the game’s second act wherein a rather important NPC asks you your name. At this point, you’re given an assortment of random letters, and you can choose up to four of them to form your name. I would have settled for something along the lines of “Dave,” but none of those letters came up, so I ended up naming my character “Pryn.” Close enough.
Soon after starting the game, you’re informed that in order to learn and perform the Earthsong, you must meet a total of seven beings known as Overseers. Each of these Overseers knows a piece of the Earthsong, but in order to meet them and attempt to convince them to help you, you must first learn the magical songs necessary to enter their domains. You might end up going about learning these magical songs in unexpected ways. For example, during the game’s second act, you learn the second Overseer’s song from gathering musicians with whom you end up performing a concert at a failing concert hall.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Wandersong has thus far exceeded my rather high expectations. Its art style and sense of humor greatly appeal to me, as I hope to have illustrated throughout this review. One thing I personally find pleasant about the game that may prove to be a point of debate, however, is its lack of a true challenge. There’s no way to fail or get a game over that I’ve discovered thus far. For example, if you fall into a pit, you simply instantly restart at your previous location.
Overall, I consider Wandersong to be a wonderful game. I love its premise; the idea of a bard with no combat experience whatsoever going on to save the universe with nothing but his singing voice is both amusing and somewhat inspiring to me. The fact that there’s no real way to fail does take away any chance of a challenge, but to me, that’s a worthwhile sacrifice.
A PC review copy of Wandersong was provided by Greg Lobanov for the purpose of this review.