Save the world of the Yondering Lands from catastrophe with your growing party of legendary heroes who improve, adapt, and retire in old age in this narrative and procedurally generated, tactical roleplaying game.
Genre: RPG, Strategy
Developer: Worldwalker Games LLC
Publisher: Worldwalker Games LLC
Release date: 13 November, 2019
When I first set eyes on Wildermyth, I wasn’t impressed by its art style and blew it off as a title that I wouldn’t be interested in. After hearing some positive thoughts on the game, I decided to give it a more in-depth look as it sounded like it had the potential to be a fun, unique experience that included a few elements that I love to see, including aging characters, a legacy that transcends any given campaign, and a deep narrative focus. As it turns out, I’m lucky that I gave it a chance as Wildermyth is one of the best games that I’ve played recently, and even in its current Early Access state, I can’t put it down.
Enter The Yondering Lands
Each campaign that you play is procedurally generated. You’ll be expanding outward from a single safe settlement, patrolling territories to clear them of monsters, developing them for resource production, forcefully evicting dungeon residents by turning them into corpses, and so on. Two of the currently available campaigns have an overarching plot that guides your actions, though whether you’re playing with these plot lines or not is inconsequential when it comes to the number of story events that you are bombarded with. These comic-like events trigger nearly every time your heroes engage in an activity on the world map and you’ll be spending a lot of time reading through them. If you don’t like to read, you may have a problem here, but for those who do, the writing is excellent and you’ll be making interesting choices that impact your characters. The overall theme of these events is pleasant and playful, though there are a few darker elements that are thrown in that will keep you on your toes. I was also surprised that I enjoyed the humor in this title as much as I did, I tend to be picky and often find comedy in games corny and dull.
As your story progresses, both your characters and your enemies will become stronger. Combat has some depth to it, certainly more than I have assumed, though battles tend to be relatively short. It’s clear that the emphasis of Wildermyth is on character and story development, and that your bouts with the local monstrosities is simply a piece of that. I chopped too many hours off of my sleep schedule over the past week due to the short battles and engaging story as they led to the “just one more turn” compulsion that my overwhelmed willpower just couldn’t resist. The monsters that you face are spread out across several factions and each of them has a unique feel when you face off against them. Be wary, though, each and every fight results in a card being drawn that strengthens your foes, either by adding new creatures to their roster or empowering those that are already there. Fortunately, your heroes acquire at least one piece of equipment with each victory which helps in keeping them formidable and able enough to fight against a horde of foes that never stops trying to murder them.
Calamities, incursions, and legacy points will significantly impact your experience. Calamities and incursions are timed, repeating events that complicate your situation; the former add four cards to the monster’s deck (significantly increasing their overall threat to you), while the latter are large-scale assaults on a formerly secured province that tend to be some of the larger battles that you’ll face, though you do get the benefit of setting up a number of useful defenses. On the other hand, legacy points work in your favor and can be used to nullify both of these troublesome events, though you may find that you develop a preference on whether you more regularly use them for this purpose or for giving yourself benefits. Recruiting heroes and building structures both require this resource and I more often than not chose to use my points for these purposes, though I certainly paid for it by having to face exceptionally powerful foes.
Legendary Heroes Of Humble Origin
The characters in your story are nowhere near as flat as you would expect them to be in a generated world. I was continually impressed by how each of them had a personality of their own, though as you might imagine, there are limits to that. It may very well be a pipe dream, but I would like to see dialog determined by personality-based aspects as it seems that most events rely on assigning lines based on a character’s class, though I would need to have a few more stories under my belt to be sure as I’ve only had one event that has repeated itself so far. However, I was impressed with the choices that are available in these scenes as they not only develop your own unique story, but often carry a mechanical affect for your characters or equipment. I had a character who ended up absorbing a fire spirit which drastically changed both his capabilities and his appearance. This was an impressive event, not just because it had such an impact on the character’s development, but also because it had also given me the choice of whether his party was able to prevent him from taking such a risk.
The customization of your heroes starts even before the first actions that you take in your story. Upon generating the three that you will start with, you have the option to reroll them or accept them as they are, but you can edit their biological appearance and history text as you see fit. Their aspects determine what opportunities (personal quest arcs) are available to them, though these are set in stone unless you start fresh by randomizing them.
Building your characters is no joke, either, though it’s streamlined to play nicely with the narrative focus so it isn’t as in-depth as some others in the tactical RPG genre. You’ll assign a class to each one of them (warrior, hunter, mystic), and their abilities are about what you would expect from them thematically, though you’ll get to choose one of three skills when they level that can make them significantly different than others of the same class. These tend to be powerful, but leveling is slower here than in most other titles. If you’re looking for a more steady source of growth for your heroes, narrative events and combat victories often earn you a new piece of equipment that you can throw on a character of your choice for stat boosts of varying levels. Slots for equipping gear are plentiful, meaning that you can have a hero benefitting from a lot of items that you’ve found at once, though you may salvage pieces that you’re not interested in for crafting resources that can be used later. One of the most exciting features of your roster is that you can spend extra legacy points to recruit them in future campaigns. You’ll most likely find them much younger than the last time you saw them, but you’ll have to choose which skills you’d like them to have from their formerly mastered list, while having their gear cut back a tier. It’s always a good time when you pull one of your legendary characters out of retirement to offer backup to the fledgling heroes.
As much as I may have pointed out areas that could use improvement in Wildermyth, these suggestions are entirely based on the potential that this gem of an indie game has. Although it’s currently in Early Access, there’s no question in my mind that it’s worth every penny of the asking price. If you like procedurally-generated games, particularly if you enjoy a deep narrative and tactical battles, I can’t recommend this game to you enough. As a matter of fact, I think it’s about time for me to return to the Yondering Lands and make sure that my second party of heroes is doing their part in saving the world from the new evil that threatens it.