Wandersong Switch

The power of music can go a long way in a video game. Just ask anyone that’s played Parappa the Rapper, or has plastic musical instruments piled up for the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games. But, somehow, Greg Lobanov has gone even further with his powerful Wandersong, a game that lets you triumph over evil in the greatest way possible -- using your voice.

It appears that the world is in peril, and a bard who sings consistently (in fact, it’s all he really does in the game) is the key to its salvation. To explain how would be to give away the plot, but it’s all about the journey here, as he’ll go everywhere from icy caves filled with dangerous beasts to the open sea, where the pirating life -- and some coffee -- call out to him.

The game’s controls work seamlessly, with the left analog stick controlling your character and the right controlling which octave they sing in. At first, you might not see the importance of that, but as Wandersong goes along, it begins to make sense.

Sometimes you have to hit proper tones to successfully get through the world. For instance, a ghost or animal may hum a certain melody, and if you copy it, you can eliminate the former and make friends with the latter, which can help you with reaching inaccessible areas. (Or just become admirers that won’t leave you alone.)

Oct 19, 2018  Wandersong might be one of the most joyous games on the Switch, and for a system that includes the likes of Super Mario Odyssey where you can control a T-Rex with Mario’s iconic red hat and mustache, makes this quite a statement to proclaim.

But the sheer genius is with particular battles. For instance, with that snow beast, they may shoot pressure your way, which you can see in a clear wind direction. But by counteracting it with your voice, you’ll be able to weather this storm and eventually reach them to discuss things further. This also plays out in other scenarios in the game, such as finding rhythm with band mates in a surprise club performance.

But what I really enjoy about Wandersong is its emotion. Yes, there’s a big “world is doomed” theme hanging over everything, but the game wonderfully mixes comedic moments with tender ones. For instance, when you see a sad girl with an accordion make a surprising connection, it tugs right at your heart strings. (Again, we won’t spoil further.) Oh, and if you thought the Assassin’s Creed shanties were fun, wait till you hit the open waters with a singing crew. Magic.

While there were some occasional bugs that got in the way of the game (prior to its release day, as they’ve since been patched), the gameplay in Wandersong is both inspired and easy to get into. Sure, it might seem silly singing your way out of every situation, but it works like a charm. Plus, the character interaction is just right; and, again, the charming moments make it all worthwhile.

The presentation is on the basic side, with a simple yet colorful art style that really brings everything to life, along with fun level layouts that require puzzle solving in some spots. It’s a little slippery in places, like when you miss a moving ledge at one point or another; but otherwise, it’s inventive.

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And, of course, the music is great to listen to, with fun little themes playing in the background alongside your singing bard, including pirating themes and some of the best accordion tunes I’ve heard yet in a video game. (Aside from Earthworm Jim, maybe?)

While the game does come to an end sooner than expected, Wandersong has more than enough good vibes to make it worth adding to your library. The musical tone is just about perfect, and the gameplay offers up enough fun to get you through some of the slower moments. The characterization is wonderful, too -- you’ll actually want to stay with your band mates even as you have to move on with your adventure. (Yes, even that drummer guy.)

We already know about the overabundant amount of indie games that you have to choose from on the Switch. But Wandersong is well worth considering, especially if you’re one of those people that just can’t help but break out into song. (You know who you are.) Don’t miss this melodic masterpiece.

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WWG’s Score: 4.5 out of 5 9 innings.

(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)

Play video games for a living and you'll eventually reach a point where you honestly, legitimately, believe that you've now seen basically everything the medium has to offer.And then a game like Wandersong comes along, all bright colours and silliness and heart, and makes you realise that there really is life in video games after all.This is a magnificent puzzle-platformer with tight gameplay design, a magnificently silly story punctuated with genuine human emotion, and singing. Singing.Broken recordWandersong casts you as a bard whose only abilities are to jump, sing, and dance. And, of course, he's set on a quest to save the world.

By singing.There's nothing your voice can't do. Need to grow a plant to reach higher up?

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Sing it to the right direction. Want to communicate with others? Sing the right words. Want to talk to ghosts? You guessed it.Singing is controlled by the right-stick, which opens a radial menu of eight notes that you can switch between at will. They're colour-coded too, so even if you don't want what you're actually singing, you can still keep up with the puzzles on offer.You can also sing pretty much whenever you like - even mid-conversation with an NPC. Which, let me tell you, never stops being funny.Dancing is done by holding down a button.

The bard does one of several silly jigs, which you can switch between at will. There is no point to dancing.Stop me if you've heard this oneThere is no point to many of the things you'll find in Wandersong. You can create a short jingle for a sweet shop, if you so desire. You can casually flirt with a villager, only for the whole thing to turn into a dreadful pun.It's a game made up almost entirely of small, silly moments. And yet there's some real heart to it as well.

An early quest is so emotionally charged, so real, that I was almost in tears. At a game with lurid colours and a papercraft art style.Nothing you do is particularly taxing. The game is incredibly generous with its puzzles, its rhythm-based moments, and its platforming. Foul up, and you'll almost instantly start over. It wants you to succeed.And you'll want to keep playing. Its story is wonderfully charming, its characters rich and full of depth, even the bystanders who offer no help. Its world is bright and beautiful.

The music is, thankfully, incredible.It even works as a bizarre two-player game, thanks to the Joy-Cons. One player controls movement while the other controls singing and interactions. Both players can trigger dancing and jumping. It's not designed for this, but if you have good communication skills with your partner, it elevates the entire experience to a whole new level.My only issue is that some of the singing segments can last a little too long. You want to go out and do more exploring, but the song just keeps on going.

If they were 25% shorter, it'd be a perfect game.Gone platinumBut Wandersong is as near to perfect as you're going to find for a puzzle-platformer game. There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe how truly marvellous it is.Everything works. The story is great.

The mechanics are simple and intuitive. It's clearly been crafted with a lot of love for every single minor element, and it all pays off.You should play Wandersong. That's really all there is to it.

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