ReviewsReview: WeakWood Throne

Review: WeakWood Throne

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A sudden change in your life can be a worrying time. You fear the disruption will damage the way you live, and ruin the harmony of your existence! One of the biggest changes a kingdom can endure is when its ruler passes. People mourn, and life goes on, but what will the heir to the throne be like? WeakWood Throne tells a harrowing tale of loss and the dark times that follow.

Developed by Gnelf and published by Drageus Games, this is an old-school action RPG. Set in the sprawling WeakWood Kingdom, you control an unlikely hero who must discover the cause of the sorrow that impacts the land. Using a retro style, and basic mechanics, you’ll undertake a dangerous journey to kill monsters, bosses, and face an enormous final beast.

WeakWood Throne captures the best elements of early RPGs.

The people of WeakWood used to be happy and prosperous. Sadly, though, their once joyous existence has turned to misery and unrelenting work. You never asked to be a hero, but one small quest sends you on a path of discovery. Before you know it, you are helping every miserable peasant across the land while edging ever closer to the Kingdom’s darkest secrets.

You will explore an array of landscapes and encounter ridiculous monsters on your quest for the truth. WeakWood Throne uses simple mechanics to convey its story, and I thoroughly enjoyed its straightforward approach. You choose between ranged attacks, melee, or magic, and you must customise your character to utilise each skill. You’ll discover many villages where vendors will sell you upgraded equipment and new potions. This was a fantastic idea as it kept the gameplay fresh and levelled out the difficulty curve of the higher level monsters.

Super scary crocs with mops.

Plenty of fetch quests and kiting combat.

Much of WeakWood Throne’s gameplay revolves around helping the villagers by completing an array of missions. You’ll experience a classic blend of monster hunting, finding missing people, and plenty of fetch quests. These were sadly a little tedious and were lacking in difficulty, mostly. As the game progresses, you are challenged because of the difficulty of your foes, and not the complexity of the tasks. This was a shame, as I desperately wanted it to evolve, but it rarely did.

Unfortunately, the combat mechanics did nothing to enhance the gameplay either. The simple hack n slash approach combined with kiting your opponents made fighting a cinch. It was regretfully disappointing as the array of weapons was great and I wanted the developers to capitalise on this. Rarely did your opponents put up a fight, and it wasn’t until the latter portion of the game that I struggled.

A wonderful world to explore, but the NPCs lack personality.

Where WeakWood Throne excels is its fantastic world you explore. The open gameplay allows you to venture as far as you wish while using boats and a skateboard to get around. You’ll discover swamps, tundra, deserts, beaches, jungles and more across the kingdom. Each area has unique monsters that enhance the defined features of each zone. This was a simple way to add variety to the gameplay while sticking to the strange yet basic plot.

When NPCs and quests form the backbone of the action, you expect each individual to have an interesting personality that adds to the story. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and many interactions are a lifeless and bland affair. Yes, some missions will capture your attention. However, it’s a shame that no rapport is built with the locals and it feels like you are going through the motions rather than wanting to help them out.

Just the normal snails and land sharks.

WeakWood Throne has a lovely old-school aesthetic.

I adored WeakWood Throne’s old-school aesthetics. The colourful world and detailed sprites were great to look at. The aforementioned variety in landscapes was fantastic, and it was easy to lose yourself in this fantasy world. Its classic look will make older gamers feel nostalgic and you’ll fall for its charms immediately.

The audio continues the old-school theme with its blend of chiptune and synthesised music. I enjoyed how the tone and pace changed to match the emotion and location, and the clever use of silence to build tension. The basic sound effects were equally good, and I liked the crashing of broken glass, the slash of your weapons, and the noises each enemy made.

Aesthetically, WeakWood Throne exceeds all expectations and produces a finish that is of much better quality than many of its peers.

Collect the ingredients to make the special potion.

Twin-stick approach and easy controls.

I was surprised that a twin-stick approach had been incorporated into the gameplay. It seemed an unusual choice for the genre, but with a little practice, it worked well. If you struggle with this control method, auto-aim can be used to make things that bit easier. Other than this, everything else is standard and its well-labelled UI makes navigating the menus user friendly.

The world you explore is large. However, it funnels the action to drive the story forward. This linear core concept impacts the replay value and reduces the reason to return. Fortunately, a large achievement list gives you plenty of tasks to complete and this supports the main story and quests nicely.

WeakWood Throne shows promise but doesn’t quite deliver.

Sometimes I wish a game would just be 100% lacklustre and appalling, rather than show promise and miss the mark. WeakWood Throne does just that, as it has so much going for it, but it cannot capitalise on its promise. It has a sound premise, excellent controls, and wonderful old-school aesthetics that are held back by simple combat mechanics, repetitive quests, and heartless NPCs. Even with its shortcomings, I enjoyed it as its positives, fortunately, paper over the cracks. It’s a nice simple action RPG and I recommend you to buy it here! Become the unlikely hero in this retro saga and discover what is affecting the kingdom of WeakWood. 

SUMMARY

WeakWood Throne is a colourful old-school RPG with such promise. A bizarre but interesting story that funnels the gameplay through a vast open world. It offers such potential, but it sadly falls short of where it should be.

+ Colourful graphics and detailed sprites.
+ Varied landscapes.
+ Retro audio.
+ Simple controls that are user friendly.
+ A nice choice of weapons.
+ The ending is tough and will challenge you.
- The quests are repetitive.
- The NPCs lack personality.
- The combat lacks finesse.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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