Wildmender joins a large library of cruel survival games. However, this fantasy endeavour attempts to break the mould. Instead of focusing solely on character progression, this title tries something different. You are expected to grow crops, gather resources, and wield magic. Yet, this may not sound all that unusual. Well, it is when you consider the harsh desert environment and ghastly apparitions you must overcome.
This fantasy survival title was developed by Muse Games and published by Kwalee. What’s more, this can be enjoyed alone or with up to 3 friends. As such, there is plenty of depth and loads of tasks to be completed. Moreover, tackling this game with your friends creates a unique set of challenges. Therefore, you must work together if you wish to survive and uncover every mystery.
Wildmender tells a tale of magic and deceit.
Wildmender does a great job of telling its tale. However, its lore-rich story plays second fiddle to the survival action. This deliberate move by the developers was impressive. Whenever you play this genre, you don’t want an oppressive storyline. Instead, you focus on making it through each day whilst working towards an end goal. Thankfully, this gets that balance just right. Subsequently, you can waste hours without progressing the core story or touching the side quests.
The story is set on a desolate and harsh desert planet. This once-thriving world has been destroyed by magic and lies. Furthermore, the guardians that once protected this place are locked within their altars. Luckily, though, a hero is found beside the last healthy water source. With the help of a confused spirit, the protagonist will bring life back to the planet and right the wrongs of their predecessors.
Get on your gardening gloves.
Wildmender is obsessed with gardening! Consequently, no matter what you do, everything revolves around your small patch of paradise. The reliance on growing crops and finding plants to progress is apparent from the off. Yet, it isn’t until you’ve died multiple times that you begin to take things seriously. This frustrating but classic survival mechanic was well-considered. Additionally, it is finely balanced with the game’s other key components.
Alongside the gardening is the requirement to find an array of powerful spirits. These friendly ghosts will impart their knowledge in exchange for magical essence. In return, you can learn new skills to enhance your potions, improve your weapons, or build new structures. Accordingly, finding every ghost is essential if you wish to survive.
This barren world should be dull and lifeless. However, the vast plains are filled with buildings, mountains, and secrets. As you explore, you’ll find graves to bless, inscriptions to read, and water sources that must be repaired. Furthermore, there are portals to energise and plenty of deadly weather fronts to overcome. Yet, the danger increases as you tackle scorched lands and poisonous air.
Unfortunately, this is the tip of the shitty iceberg. If the world doesn’t want to kill you, then the army of wraiths will. These cruel and aggressive assholes materialise out of thin air. As such, you must be on your guard at all times. Alongside this, there are deadly outposts to avoid and you must consider the weather and time of day.
Though I expected the cruel environment to kill me, I wasn’t expecting the wind, sun, and storms to be so deadly! If you don’t time your journey correctly, your water, food, and health bars will deplete faster than Usain Bolt running the 100m Olympic final. As such, you must be prepared if you wish to survive.
A good deal of survival games focus solely on the survival aspects of their gameplay. Consequently, as a result, the game plateaus and becomes tiresome. However, Wildmender has a clear progression path that can be followed or ignored. This was great, as there was never a sense of time restraint. Additionally, you can explore freely and prepare your crops however you see fit.
Whenever you tackle the core missions, you are tested throughout. What’s more, other than the cryptic guidance, there is no other form of hand-holding. Subsequently, you must study your surroundings and grow whatever plants you see fit. The same thought process applies to new buildings and equipment. Learning new skills from the ghosts is all well and good. However, you must find the rarest resources if you wish to create the best equipment. Consequently, the action remains finely balanced throughout and there is no opportunity to skip past your dangers or bum-rush each key mission.
Wildmender is beautifully oppressive.
Wildmender has an odd but alluring art style. The rich colour palette and simple graphics combine to create a beautifully oppressive world. What’s more, as you spark life to the desolate landscape, the colours and textures change an otherwise bleak environment. Alongside this, the enormous mountains and towering structures enhance the ominous and depressing nature of a once vivid world.
The depressing and almost desperate atmosphere is supported by a wonderful soundtrack. The blend of sombre and melancholy songs is juxtaposed with some upbeat and often aggressive tunes. Accordingly, the developers have created a sense of loss and hope in their soundscape.
Who’d have thought gardening could be so much fun?
Though this is one tough cookie to crack, the developers have done a great job with their UI. The excellent submenus and radial system are easy to handle and simple to navigate. Furthermore, flitting between your inventory and other items was a cinch. Subsequently, you can eat food, drink potions, and kill wraiths at the press of a button.
Whether you play this alone or with friends, you still get the same addictive experience. Creating a beautiful world from dust is satisfying and rewarding. Additionally, solving the cryptic clues to complete each mission was a fantastic feeling. As such, if you love survival games, but you want something different, you’ll still be addicted while enjoying a magical twist.
Wildmender shouldn’t go undetected.
Indie games are two a penny. As such, many excellent games slip under the radar. However, it would be a tragedy to allow Wildmender to go undetected. This excellent title delivers balanced and enjoyable gameplay mechanics. Furthermore, you get plenty of bang for your buck as you’ll need over 30 hours to complete the main story.
Consequently, I love it and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you create paradise from death and despair? Harvest resources, fight the wraiths, and piece together this once-lush world.