Short Takes - Wander (PS4)
Off the top of my head, I can’t remember the last time I went from super excited to utter disappointment in such a short span. Just this past week, before recording our podcast, I watched a trailer for an upcoming exploration-based MMO called Wander. In the trailer, it showed you exploring a lush, majestic island with others around you. The trailer showed one character flying atop a Griffin, soaring through the blue skies above, only to leap off and freefall to the islands below. It looked beautiful, it looked ambitious, and I was totally excited to jump into this mysterious world. The fact that there was no form of combat was intriguing, and honestly, with how beautiful the game looks in the trailer, I was totally open to a relaxing game where you discover new things with others. In the back of my mind, I kept saying to myself, “Sleeper Hit, Sleeper Hit!” Then the unthinkable happened; I played the game and was subject to one of my worst gaming experiences this generation.
When you fire up the game there are four options: Wander, Settings, Sound Settings, and Credits. It’s worth noting that there isn’t a Save or Load option either. After sitting through a lengthy, low-res load screen, you are introduced to the world of Wander through a short monologue from a woman who can’t remember how she got there, and you learn she’s taken the form of a tree that can walk around. Hey, that’s cool, right? There were walking trees in Lord of the Rings that were pretty bad-ass. As I made my way down a path full of pop-in, audio dropouts, and rocks with gibberish written on them, I immediately thought to myself, “Hmmm, for an MMO, there doesn’t seem to be too many other people – or walking trees – around.” Next thing I noticed: my tree walks very slowly. A very short burst of power aided my walking if I tapped down on L3, but was of little use in the grand scheme of things. I had a pretty weak jump as well, that I doubt would be of any use whatsoever. After about five minutes of slow walking without a map, I made my way down to the beach where I found another walking tree! Seeing as all trees appear to walk at the same pace, it took me about another ten minutes to catch up to the other tree by taking an angled approach. Sure enough, once I caught up to the tree, I realized I had no means to communicate; no voice-chat or hand gestures were at my disposal as far as I could tell. Then I noticed my fellow tree just kept walking into rock, so I wasn’t sure if this was another player online or just a dimwitted AI-controlled tree. Twenty minutes go by (felt more like 40 minutes at that point), and I found some kind of pond with a lizard in it. When I entered the pond, I was informed that I had turned into the lizard. Then I realized my lizard was just as slow to traverse the world as the tree. *Sigh*
I continued to make my way around the deserted island (so much for the MMO aspect) for another ten minutes before the game crashed a second time. Strangely enough – and this is not a good thing – that crash was the best part of the game because I wasn’t having the least it bit of fun. I wasn’t enjoying the “exploration” aspect of the game. The weak audio – when it didn’t cut out for minutes at a time – coupled with the long, boring gameplay was just too much of a downer to appreciate whatever it is the developers were going for. All I do know is that the fun and mystery of the trailer was completely absent in the first 40 minutes of the game. If you can’t hook a gamer after 40 minutes of play, amidst a plethora of technical issues, something is clearly wrong. This isn’t a review by any means, but I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone, especially with what now seems like a very hefty $25 price tag.
SHOULD YOU TRY IT OUT?: Hell no! Avoid at all costs!