Have you ever wished for an RPG with a near-limitless pool of stories that you could play through? An RPG where every run would feel unique and grounded, despite relying heavily on random procedural events? If the answer is yes, then I congratulate you for finally finding that RPG. Wildermyth is the kind of game that I’ve been craving for years, without even knowing, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one in that situation.
Wildermyth is a multi-party RPG with tactical turn-based combat and an impressive array of stories. It’s procedural storytelling done right, and it manages to bring to life some of the most engaging characters that I’ve ever had the chance of meeting in a video game. But who are these characters? Well, they start as ordinary people, but they eventually become folklore legends, known to all across the land and throughout several decades. In this aspect, Wildermyth is excellent, because your heroes grow and learn just as you do, as a player. One of the greatest things about Wildermyth, is the fact that your heroes age, and during their lifetime, they’ll experience events and make choices that can completely change who they are.
In Wildermyth, heroes can fall in love and develop bitter rivalries with each other. They can have children who will become a part of your group once they’ve become of age. They’ll often question their life choices, if fighting evil is all there is to life, or if they’ll ever find someone to love. There are just as many sad moments as there are happy ones and, whatever might happen, the game still manages to plug a bit of humour here and there. It’s quite remarkable how the game manages to add so much substance to characters that started as nobodies.
In terms of content, Wildermyth offers five main campaigns, including one that serves as a tutorial of sorts. Each campaign is divided into multiple chapters, that split up the story and expand the map as you progress. Besides that, you can also play different kinds of procedurally-generated campaigns. These only feature random events, they contain no main story. There are also four difficulty modes, but you can also create a custom one if you so desire. Whether you’re in it for the story, for a challenging combat experience, or a bit of both, the game has got you covered. Still, I’d like to point out that this isn’t a complex game in terms of combat.
Now, although each campaign revolves around a huge plot and the pursuit of a major global goal, there’s much more than that to them. In contrast with most RPGs, Wildermyth doesn’t have side quests in the typical sense. Instead, there are tons of random events that can trigger opportunities for your heroes, should you choose to pursue them. These are essentially optional endeavours that expand upon the world and give your heroes the chance to evolve and become something far greater than your typical warrior, hunter, or mystic.
Some random events can even incur physical transformations on your heroes. These start small, only affecting one of their limbs, but you get to choose if you want their transformation to progress even further at the end of each campaign’s chapter. This usually involves some sort of trade-off. For instance, if a transformation spreads to an arm, that hero will no longer be able to use two-handed weapons. Still, transformations tend to be worth the penalties not only due to the stat bonuses that they bring, but also because of the abilities that come with them. Heroes can become imbued with the ability to shoot lightning that can stun enemies, vine attacks that shred enemy armour, amongst many others which I won’t spoil. There’s plenty of surprises waiting to be found, rest assured.
There’s plenty of dialogue between your party members between fights, as they traverse the world, and also during random events. These are neatly presented in a form of comic-book styled segments, beautifully illustrated in the game’s characteristic papercraft style. These segments serve as the game’s only means of presenting its stories to you, and they’re wonderfully written.
Whether it’s the overarching narrative that spans multiple generations of heroes, or the small stories involving local folklore, Wildermyth has the substance to keep you engaged throughout multiple playthroughs. Never once did I find myself skipping dialogue or wishing for something more interesting. As a result of that, the procedural campaigns flow naturally, and each of them features plenty of emergent storytelling opportunities. Sure, you’ll run into the same events multiple times, but since each party has their unique legacy, it always felt like I was experiencing a completely new storyline.
I’ll never forget the time when one of my heroes got too greedy when trying to remove a rock from an altar, and ended up with a shard right in his eye socket. I’ll also never forget that time when my favourite archer refused to marry a waterling, whom she had just met. It was love at first sight for both of them, but giving in to her desire for love would mean abandoning her friends and the world to its fate. Lili will also be forever in my thoughts, as he willingly sacrificed himself to save the rest of the group. Wildermyth is full of such tales, part of them come and go at random, but the player will always have some input in regards to its outcome.
As such, I found it easy to get attached to my band of heroes, and I was genuinely sad when I got to see my heroes retire or tragically perish in combat. After spending their entire lives fighting for the greater good, they’ve more than earned their rest. However, a lot of times they pass on the mantle to their sons and daughters, and they can still return in future campaigns as a Legacy Hero, so I guess that their fighting spirit does live on.
In terms of gameplay, Wildermyth is your standard turn-based tactics game with a cover and hit-chance system. Each hero has two action points, which they can use to move and attack. In this case, only an action point is consumed if you decide to move within a specific radius, if you go further than that, you’ll consume your last action point. As for attacks and abilities, some are free to use once per turn, others only consume one action point, and others consume all your action points.
Despite how mundane the combat might initially sound, there are things that do make it quite interesting. The best thing about the combat in Wildermyth, is how Mystics work, which are the game’s version of wizards. They use interfusion, which allows them to link themselves with scenery objects and use them in various ways. Different pieces of scenery have unique effects. Some explode and splinter on impact, others ricochet between nearby enemies, while others can shield allies or shackle enemies. Besides that, the transformations are also a big part of the combat and what makes it really unique.
If there’s one thing that really disappointed me, that would be the combat arenas. Unfortunately, they all feel and look pretty much the same. Apart from a few exceptions, there’s nothing different about them when it comes to how each fight plays out. Likewise, the objective in each encounter always tends to be “kill all enemies”. Therefore, I do wish that there was more variety in regards to this aspect. Not even the defence missions are different, despite the fact that you have to essentially defend a town from an entire enemy army.
Incursions, calamities, and infestations are also another big part of the game, as they serve to keep the pressure on by giving the player little breathing room. Whether your heroes are travelling, scouting unknown territories, building resource outposts or defences, time is always ticking. As time goes on, enemies will infest the lands and they’ll also mount up incursions that will target specific areas on the map. Furthermore, with time, your enemies also become more powerful via the calamity system. These can either be completely new enemy types, or enemy-specific buffs.
With that said, you can definitely choose to go straight for your goal, as that doesn’t allow your enemies to grow that powerful. However, in doing so, you won’t be able to liberate the lands and claim their resources. This not only hinders your ability to craft better equipment, but also leads to shorter periods of peace at the end of each chapter, which limits what kind of events can trigger in that space of time.
As you slay infested animals, mystical creatures, and ancient clockwork machines, your heroes will also gain experience and level up. This allows them to unlock passive and active abilities, further deepening the customization aspect. Nonetheless, there’s also plenty of loot to be found and equipped, or salvaged for resources if you find no use for it. Having said that, in Wildermyth, once a character equips a piece of equipment, they claim it as theirs forever. There’s no constant swapping of equipment here. This seems like an odd design decision, as even when you replace someone’s weapon, you can’t even give their old one to someone else. It’s just lost forever. In a way, this forces you to keep a balance between all your heroes, and not just give the best gear to the same ones, which might be the reason why equipment is permanently locked.
In any case, the roleplaying aspect is undoubtedly the biggest selling point of Wildermyth. Even though I wish there was more to it when it comes to combat, the game really is something quite special. It has that “just one more” vibe to it and, because of that, it’s extremely addicting. It can also be enjoyed in short bursts, as combat encounters aren’t that long and you can save at any time.
Wildermyth also supports modding, which not only lets you add more cosmetic customization options, but also lets you add new events. There’s also co-op, but I haven’t gotten the chance of trying it. Still, I’m currently playing through the third main campaign, and with 22 hours in the game, I have no intention of stopping playing anytime soon. I highly recommend Wildermyth to any fans of RPGs, but especially to those who are more into the roleplay aspect of the genre than anything else. If the game clicks with you, and I’m sure it will for a lot of people, then you’re in for quite the treat.