Capsule Review: Wandersong

A story-based 2D adventure and platforming game where you play as a bard. While you can walk, jump, and talk to people your primary method of interacting with the world is singing. Most of the game is quite gentle, with no failure modes to disrupt your carefree exploration and experimentation, though there are a few out-of-place difficulty spikes that damage the mood even if most players won’t have much trouble getting past them.

A lot of Wandersong’s novelty and charm come from the singing mechanic. Tilting the right stick reveals a wheel divided into eight sections with corresponding colors and notes. Holding the stick in a direction causes the bard to sing that note, and singing has a variety of effects on different objects and characters over the course of the game. Some effects are cosmetic, like changing the color of flowers, and some are necessary for solving puzzles, like getting birds to help you jump higher by repeating their bird songs back to them. The game keeps finding new ways to use this ability, but you can also just sing for the heck of it any time you want to. Similarly, you can dance whenever you want - even during dialog. This does nothing, but the omnipresent opportunity for joyful self-expression is a perfect fit for the player character and the optimistic tone of the game. Creator Greg Lobanov has even said that the dancing may be “the most important thing” in the game despite having no mechanical effect.

That optimistic tone is what provides most of the rest of the game’s appeal. It’s a charming story with likable characters and an uplifting message. It’s a little incohesive - different chapters don’t feel like they take place in the same world and some plot elements are framed as highly important before suddenly vanishing - which unfortunately decreases the impact of the climactic moments. But many of the individual scenes are memorable and satisfying and the overall package still has a refreshing tone, charming aesthetic, and beautiful soundtrack. It’s a joy getting to know the characters and accompanying them on their journey, singing and dancing all the while.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game, collected all dances, and found the developer room. I did not replay with commentary.

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.