Whenever I see the “Puzzle” genre, I picture complex issues that need a logical frame of mind, and plenty of patience to overcome. This was not what I encountered when I tried my latest review title, Wilmot’s Warehouse. Developed by; Richard Hogg and Hollow Pond, and published by Finji, this game will test your organisation skills more than your ability to understand and solve difficult problems.
All the action takes place in a vast Warehouse that is owned by an unnamed individual. You control a white square called Wilmot. His job requires him to organise the world around him, ensuring that objects are stored correctly, and when the time comes, he must deliver goods to the 4 waiting customers at the collection window. Each game allows for up to 200 products to be selected at random out of a possible 500 available. Which items are selected matters not, as they have no bearing on the outcome of the game, nor do they impact your path to victory. The only time that you will be concerned about the products is for your new found sense of OCD, and if you are a completionist.
Wilmot’s job soon turns into a nightmare!
This brings me beautifully on to my bugbear with this title. The game is perfectly serviceable if you have no concern about collecting all the achievements and obtaining that 100% status. But, if you are like me, then you will want to be one of the few players that can claim that they have completed it, and you will slowly hate everything that Wilmot’s Warehouse stands for. The simple and charming gameplay soon turns into a migraine inducing pain in the behind. You will slowly slip into a coma while you desperately try to obtain a tile that resembles a musical instrument, or perhaps you want one that appears to be a piece of sports equipment. Whatever you are after, you can almost guarantee that you won’t find the perfect combination anytime soon, so this means many attempts will be needed in order to receive that elusive grouping.
Anyway, now I have that off my chest, let’s look at the gameplay in more detail. The game is split into 2 difficulty levels; Normal and Expert. Normal is where you should begin, and effectively both games play the same way, but Expert is understandably much harder, with a reduction in time, which adds to an increase in pressure of both your memory and organisation skills. The gameplay takes place over multiple calendar years. You must complete each quarter, obtaining new products en route, and at the end of the 3rd month you must take your time to organise your stock, and ensure you know your product layout. During each month you have a set amount of time to collect the goods from your shop floor, delivering them to each of the customers who eagerly await you. The quicker you achieve this task, the more stars you are awarded, with a maximum of 13 available. So why do you want to collect stars, you may think? Upgrades, that’s why! You are free to increase Wilmot’s strength and speed. You can hire a robot to help and open up more storage space within your warehouse. These upgrades are essential, and though you are likely to gain them all with little effort, unlocking them all makes it much easier to complete the game.
It’s not very challenging for a puzzle game!
The concept of this title is as simple as it sounds; have stock delivered, place it however you wish, acknowledge what your customers want, and deliver them their goods. This groundhog day approach carries on until you have all 200 products, and once you hit this landmark, its game over. You can now choose to start over or never play it again. It’s mundane, annoying, and will get under your skin, but more importantly, it’s addictive as hell, and you won’t be able to stop playing!
One element of Wilmot’s Warehouse that I loved and hated was the graphics. On the surface, they provide you with an earthy, dank world to exist in. Flecks of colour are introduced once you receive your stock, but mostly it’s a plain game to look at. One of the key mechanics is stock organisation, yet the icons are tough to decipher, and I spent most of my time organising by colours, instead of the subject of the objects I had stored. I would have preferred that each item had a description. This would have helped identify the mystery objects, and it would have also aided in the unlocking of the brutal achievement list.
The audio follows the basic principle of the rest of this title, and though it won’t blow you away, it’s perfectly serviceable. Like a hotel lobby, or lift, you will be treated to some calming notes as you scurry around your maze of goods. It’s neither offensive, nor great, and it’s about the level I expect from an indie developer.
As most of the gameplay depends on time based tasks, you’d hope that the control system is both accurate and easy to handle. Mostly it’s good and does exactly as you’d expect. But sometimes it makes you scream with frustration. The selection of adjacent tiles appears to have a mind of its own, and you nearly always have to drag out unnecessary objects to gather the required items. This leads to wasted time, loss of stars, and unwanted frustration. I can’t help but feel that this game would play better using a mouse and keyboard on a PC. Don’t let the controls put you off though, it’s something you adjust to, and become accustom to quickly.
Do you really want to come back for more?
Having spent hours of my spare time playing this game, you’d think I’d be a big advocate for its high replay value. As I’ve already mentioned, my desire to keep plugging away is because of the 1000 Gamerscore, and not a love for this annoying square protagonist. If you are not a completionist, I’d hazard that you’ll run through it several times, giving you around 8 hours of gaming time. If you are nuts like me, you’ll be rolling the dice, and this could last you between 15 hours to who knows, maybe weeks (if you are really unlucky).
I’m not entirely sure who this is aimed at. It’s not challenging enough to be considered a puzzle game, nor is it graphically detailed enough to allow you to sort out your items by their category, so it’s not a resource management game either. It’s one of those games that fills a nondescript genre, and can only be thought of as a filler title. Something that can mindlessly absorb hours of your life, without you even knowing about it. So, do I recommend it? Strangely, I do. For all its faults, and my hatred for Wilmot, it’s still a fun little game. If you pick it up just to try it out, you’ll have a good time, and the little niggles won’t get to you too much. But if you start this with that completion in mind, then you have just opened Pandora’s box, my friend. Nights will be lost, and you’ll awaken from your gaming stupor, greyer and angrier than you’ve ever been! Take control of your little white square, after all, that stock will not organise itself.