The popularity of ‘quests’ is a thing of the past. Adventures that require you to spend 40 minutes searching for a door handle or other similar trifle are not appealing to modern audiences. However, anything is possible when a task is approached creatively. This is exactly how it turned out Whatland from Russian developers Caligari Games. The search, which is classic at its core, is diluted by a large number of innovations, so it is difficult to call the project outdated. Once we missed the release of the game on PC, but now WhatsApp is preparing to conquer consoles. We played the game all the way through, didn’t regret it for a second and are ready to tell you about it.
Land of indifference
You take on the role of a young thief, Vincent, who had the misfortune to choose the house of a mysterious witch for his next theft. Everything goes according to plan, the gems are already in his pocket, but a few seconds later the man finds himself in a refrigerator in a landfill in a completely unknown place.
This world is a prison without time, where everyone who, in the opinion of the witch Beatrice, deserves to “think about his behavior” is imprisoned or hidden. Moreover, not all residents of the beautiful settlement are necessarily villains. There are also simply lost souls to whom the mysterious sorceress decided to give a second chance.
Vincent soon meets the same prisoner: the writer Nikolai. He tells the hero that Beatrice once created a spell that allowed her to be summoned to Waterland. But there is one problem: the old piece of paper with the text was distributed among the seven first prisoners. Now the thief and the writer must collect all the parts and try to be freed from the witch.
The plot of the story is intriguing, but you should not expect any special revelations. Your job is basically limited to collecting the spell. The moral of the story is on the same level. With such a rich base, the semantic burden could be more severe.
The developers decided to add an element of non-linearity, which they talked about with pleasure in almost every interview. Unfortunately, in practice this seems much easier than it seems. Vincent has a choice: use his professional skills and simply steal part of the sheet, or try to solve the characters’ problems so that they cast part of the spell themselves. Correct answers are marked with the sun, and answers that lead to theft are marked with the moon.
What do you think about quests?
New generation quest
When you play as a “good boy”, you will encounter a number of mini-games. At the same time, they also exist in thefts, but they are completely different. The developers have replaced the ‘stuffy’ pixel hunt with small activities that always offer something new, so the alternative is very well chosen. But already in the middle of the passage, the thoughts creep in that it would be more fun if the creators would at least add some kind of challenge.
As a result, the only difficulty in passing will be the main mini-game: the board game, which Caligari Games is so proud of that the characters constantly mention it in almost every dialogue.
The idea is simple: you have a chess field and four small creatures. Each has a magical ability and move distance. The aim is to get the ball to the opponent’s goal by any means and score a goal. Even a child will quickly understand the rules, but the gameplay itself can stop the progress of the main plot for several hours. As with any board game, there are nuances. For example, a gate represents three spoons, two of which the enemy can defend. If you don’t guess where to hit the ball, everything starts again.
There are several of the most powerful players in Waterland that you must defeat to complete the story. The only saving grace is that there are magical balls of yarn scattered throughout the city, just enough to prevent all collisions. In any case, only the final battle will have to be completed independently, although it is not very clear why you cannot skip it.
Little attention is paid to the characters themselves. They are all clear and structured, but do not go beyond the situations in which Vincent encounters them. And ultimately, very little is known about the main characters themselves. The writers wanted the player to decide for himself who Vincent was, but how he lived before the fateful robbery, why he started this – everything remains behind the scenes. The same goes for Nikolai.
Waterland is divided into locations, which are united by a large-scale map. You can move in any direction; there is no clear connection between progress and places. Inspecting locations is simplified by a special button that conveniently highlights all active places. You will understand the notations very quickly and not waste time on useless analysis of decorative items that cannot be used.
At the same time, the city visually presents a medley of images that reference the real Paris, the Deponia quest series, and even, suddenly, the Dishonored series. The authors have managed to achieve a recognizable drawing style that combines a variety of details and features. When you first arrive at a certain location, you first just look around, it is so beautiful here.
However, without the soundtrack, the effect wouldn’t be as powerful. He is, without exaggeration, beautiful. The combination of accordion, trumpet, cello and a whole host of other musical instruments literally breathes life into what is happening. You want to be in Waterland, wander through the streets and look into every dark corner.
Caligari Games has created a simple, but incredibly stylish and cute adventure for a few evenings. Whatland doesn’t require you to rack your brains or think about timeless themes. The game delivers exactly what it promises and that’s why it’s good. Pleasant music and excellent images will be a great addition to the story, which is worth going through at least once to see the city and get to know its inhabitants. During the credits you find yourself wishing to see a sequel, and this is already an excellent result.
Have you played Welkeland?
Source: VG Times
Christina Moncayo is a contributing writer for “Social Bites”. Her focus is on the gaming industry and she provides in-depth coverage of the latest news and trends in the world of gaming.