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Wilderplace Review

Wilderplace is a puzzle game involving moving and placing ‘spirit’ objects from one location to another in discrete turn-based moves. The levels are basically a grid of varying sizes with obstacles displayed in an isometric view. These spirit objects move and latch onto the nearest living being. The player is a Shaman that is tasked with moving the spirits and placing them on small trees, which then become big trees and sprout small trees around the new tree. Big trees are obstacles, small trees can be traversed. Along with crystals and other formations, the player will discover more and more levels (gardens) with increasing complexity.

Wilderplace has some settings and options like sound and music levels, but not much in the way of graphics. The graphics are styled as pencil hand-drawn, and fortunately, there is an option to toggle off the wiggly line effect. There is a reference for the controls, so several controller methods of movement and actions are supported, including keyboard, game controllers and mouse or touchscreen. The game begins with some tutorial information given by an NPC, however this was not well thought out. Some of the game’s mechanics are not explained at all until a few levels into the game, and this causes some trial-and-error frustration, with results that seem inexplicable. For example, a spirit locked on to the player gives the player three moves before the player is turned into a tree (game over). This isn’t explained until three or four levels in, although sharp-eyed players may notice a nondescript counter right away.

The gameplay is limited to moving and using the casting action to place a spirit. This casting action is also not really explained until a few levels are completed; in fact, the player may not understand how the early levels even completed until the casting is understood. The casting is odd because it is not a separate control if the player is using the mouse exclusively. Click and drag is both casting and moving, the difference is the time the mouse button is held down. It would have been better to make it something like click and drag to move, right mouse button to cast. Anyway, after five or six levels, the mechanics are easily understood and the real difficulty begins to show. In the deeper levels, many gardens will have a few possible ways to solve them, but many will have only one way. These one-way solves mean that the player will be replaying that level over and over until they get the exact move/cast sequence down. There is an undo-move that is acquired, which allows easily back-tracking, but in many cases it’s easier to simply reset the level and start from the beginning again.

In its own way, Wilderplace feels a lot like a Sokoban push game where exacting move sequences are required to solve the puzzle. There isn’t a lot of adventure or tactics in Wilderplace, it is simply a puzzle game that requires a lot of move calculation and planning after the first ten or so levels. Wilderplace is good for at least a few hours of puzzle solving, after that it may feel tedious for players that are not into move calculation as a game. Wilderplace is recommended for Sokoban style puzzle lovers, although the asking price may be a bit high.

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Jacmac is an ancient gamer that loves open world, strategy, FPS, and tactical sims, but will play almost anything.

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