Before we begin our Wandering Village Review, let’s take a brief look at the settings of some city builders. You’ve conquered the galaxy, gone back to the stone age, and even tailor your own version of mankind’s progress. You’ve survived an ice-covered post-apocalyptic world and expanded your kingdom across scorching deserts.
And when you think you’ve seen all there is to see in the genre of city-builder games, human creativity shines yet again and brings a new twist to this beloved formula. This time it’s not you that wanders in search of resources, but your settlement (yes, literally), on the back of a huge creature named Onbu, roaming what remains of a dying world. And so we bring to you our Wandering Village Review.
While Onbu carries the last remnants of humanity on its back, we sit at our computers to determine if is it even worth toiling away for hours in this game and restoring humanity’s hope for the future. Or should the flower buds of human life be allowed to wither away along with the roots of this game world?
Story and Setting
The Wandering Village takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where mysterious and toxic plants are taking over the Earth, emitting poisonous spores and polluting the surface. A handful of human settlers scour the poisonous wasteland in search of an untainted place to settle down.
And while doing so, they stumble upon a bizarre giant creature named Onbu carrying an untouched and unpolluted land on its back. Where Onbu sees desperate people clinging to their last breath, the humans see hope; a safe haven for them that can preserve their species.
The world map itself is quite big, with different biomes, each having its own fair share of challenges. The map includes key resources required for modification of the village and also certain points of interest.
Now let’s dive deep into the main section of our The Wandering Village Review which concerns the gameplay. To start with, there are 3 difficulty levels to choose from; Novice, Adept, and Veteran.
For beginners, we recommend Novice difficulty as the game guides you on the basics of how to get your settlement up and running. The adept difficulty is suggested if the players have already developed basic familiarity with the gameplay loop and game mechanics. But players who yearn for a true post-apocalyptic survival experience can switch to Veteran difficulty, during which the village is bombarded with calamities from the start and the entire experience is a lot more challenging.
Further options for enhancing the difficulty are also available which include modifiers like not letting the villagers die, not letting Onbu itself die, and even restricting your ability to manually save.
The game starts off like most other city-builders, as a bunch of settlers gather in the beginner area of a map waiting for instructions. But as you zoom out, you realize that the section of the map your villagers are gathered in is actually located on top of a humongous creature. Zoom out further and you can see the large open-world map, showing the different paths Onbu can take, along with multiple different points of interest.
Onbu is also a living creature, and as such, it has different stats such as Health, Hunger, Poison Level, and Sleepiness that you have to keep track of.
The player can influence Onbu’s behavior by issuing commands to it using the Horn. These commands include speeding up, settling down, or changing paths at a crossroads. Harvesting resources can decrease your trust level with Onbu as these are literally a part of its body, and as a result, there is a chance of it ignoring your orders.
Trust level increases by feeding Onbu and tending to its wounds. And Yes! players can even pet Onbu by sending a group of villagers to its head.
The resources on Onbu are enough to build basic buildings like a shelter for the villagers and food collectors. The player can start off assigning villagers to build tents, then move on to building farms and berry gatherers to gather food. Resource gathering buildings have an Efficiency meter which, as the name suggests, determines the efficiency of the said structure. The efficiency varies from place to place, for example, a Berry Gatherer has maximum efficiency when placed in between berries plants.
Resources on Onbu are limited and run out fairly quickly. To combat this problem, players can send scouting and scavenging parties to the surface of the wasteland for gathering resources and also potentially finding new villagers.
The title also features an in-depth research system, which allows a multitude of gameplay enhancements.
Players can access these enhancements by building the Research building. There are a total of 3 research trees:
First up is the Village Tree, which Includes research upgrades to improve housing, harvesting resources, and feeding the villagers. Next is the Resources Tree which grants access to new buildings to harvest materials and increase their efficiency. And finally, we come to the Onbu Tree, which is Concerned with the methodology of feeding and healing Onbu.
No city-building game is fun without a bunch of calamities to keep the player on their edge. Well, The Wandering Village has its fair share of them which accompany different biomes. Each region brings its own temperature changes, toxicity, and humidity which can affect the villagers and Onbu negatively, and also cause damage to the crops.
Passing through a toxic environment can result in toxic spores appearing on Onbu, which can quickly spread throughout its body. These toxic spores need to be dealt with using flamethrowers.
This also highlights one of the game’s problems, as it doesn’t really give the player full command over their villagers. The player can only assign them tasks and set priority levels for them. The game does not allow you to set specific actions for the villagers which they can perform when a certain condition is met. Neither can the player assign when or how the villagers perform their task.
This title is also fairly simple and targeted toward a casual audience. Hardcore city-builder sim players might not favor this game as it does not have complex mechanics and lacks micromanaging.
Visuals and Performance
The game looks absolutely beautiful. Never has a blend of a 3D world with hand-drawn 2D villagers and buildings looked so stunning. The developers have really nailed the visuals, which convey a hopeless and crumbling world, while simultaneously looking green and beautiful. Each biome is also visually distinct from the next, and more stunning than the predecessor.
Despite being in early access, I faced no major issues with the title performance-wise. I play-tested the game on a core i7 6700 with a GTX 1060 6GB and did not face any hiccups, crashes, or drops in performance. But that’s to be expected since you can all clearly see that The Wandering Village is not exactly the most graphically intensive game.
The game ran pretty smooth for me just like Onbu when I launched food into its mouth using a trebuchet. Here’s a good boy!
Let’s wrap up our The Wandering Village Review. Stray Fawn Studio has a good game on its hands. The setting is creative, and the gameplay loop is simple but fun. They have also managed to completely nail the beautiful art style for this game without sacrificing its post-apocalyptic feel.
It is still lacking in some places in terms of content and requires some quality of life improvements. But since this game is in Early Access, the developers clearly aim to support the title for the long term, especially since it has garnered a neat little player base so far.
We hope you enjoyed our The Wandering Village Review. While you’re here, also check out some of our other articles.
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The Wandering Village Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals and Performance
Stray Fawn Studio has a good game on its hands. The setting is creative, and the gameplay loop is simple but fun.
- New Take On The City-Builder Genre.
- Beautiful Artstyle.
- Simple But Fun Gameplay Loop.
- Less Than Desired Content.
- Limited Commands For Controlling Villagers