For a few years, I have been pretty bored by every JRPG game and how their battle systems developed. The typically round-based system simply isn’t in par with the achievements which were made in the fields of graphics or animation style. Instead of adjusting the battle systems to a state-of-the-art level, they still seem kind of static, repetitive – and boring.

WanderjahR – TryAgainOrWalkAway, a game developed in seven years by Workyrie from Thailand, wants to overcome these problems by mixing typical JRPG elements with a quite strategic gameplay. And that’s how it works: Before (and during) each level you can choose between 18 different characters. Every character has his or her own play-style, abilities or effects which are connected to a specific stat attribute of the team. So, like in a typical JRPG, you have to balance the stats of your team to be prepared for long, exhausting fights against many monster waves.

1
This is Sprite, one of the 18 characters you get during the game. And this is the only bit of information about the character.

This is a very accurate description of the game’s core mechanics. You must fight many monsters in the game in order to ensure scientific progress by editing the universe source code and freeing the world from evil and malfeasance. All monsters want to destroy and prevent the finalization of this repair process. And it is your duty to fight the monsters, the evil and to save the world. But – and that’s the sad part of it – that’s only how far the story goes in WanderjahR.

When you begin to play, the game introduces the player to the battle system and the story arc in a very good way and it’s easy to learn and use the strategies, to balance your team and finally to win the first battles. Between every round/level, you can recover in the base and buy items, or you can spend experience points to level up your characters. Still, the game does not continue to develop the story or the characters after the promising start. You don’t know how your heroes are related to the story and you find them now and then, kind of by accident, when a battle level begins or ends. Long story short, the gameplay sequences are the same every time: checking items, leveling characters, fighting – and luckily winning. The game adds no story or other interesting extension to enrich the gameplay besides the aforementioned system. Sounds repetitive, right?

2
The main menu and hub is quite clean and empty. Sadly, that represents also the variety of choices later: There aren’t much of them.

Sadly, even the repetitive gameplay and the early lack of additional content of finding characters and leveling them up ends in world two of eight, because every character can only reach a maximum level of 12. This leads to an extremely steep difficulty curve, making world three and the corresponding boss a so-called GATE – which is already mentioned by the manual to the game: “99 percent of testers can’t pass the GATE.” And that sums up what happened to me: I didn’t pass the gate, because the boss felt unbeatable after around twenty-five tries. I leveled every character to maximum, had enough money to have loads of items and until then, I was quite good in pushing back the monster waves. Then, a shark came around and only used three punches to kill my characters or injure them so badly that they died pretty soon. This happened several times. In one word: frustrating. . Even if I could use the Easy Mode which can be enabled using a cheat code from the internet, it feels wrong regarding the game design to program a game which can only be beaten with cheat codes.

3
The first “gate” – an alien-like pop band, which is never introduced or explained.

To sum it up, WanderjahR is a really hard game with nearly no story and a main focus on the new gameplay approach. If you can deal witch this and won’t back off when the enemies feel overpowered and unbearable – or you are used to this from soulslike or roguelike game s–, then you should give it a try. Otherwise you should just … “walk away”.

Wanderjahr is available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. This review is based on the version for Nintendo Switch.  A review copy was kindly offered by the developer.

2 Comments »

  1. I’m developer of this game 🙂
    I respect every review
    Just want to add some more information about the game.

    “…the game does not continue to develop the story…”
    “The game adds no story…”
    <– There are a lot of story in this game.
    After player beat each level the log data in the diary will provide more story.
    Like other RPG game the story will tell background of characters, place, environment, enemy
    and tell the overall situation of the game in detail.
    Some story will give player a hint to beat the cruel enemy too.

    "…lack of additional content of finding characters.."
    <– The game have content of "finding character" for sure.
    In world 1 there are hidden character "Researcher" for player to find.
    The game manual already give hint about this quest.
    And in world 2 there are another side quest that lead to another hidden character too.

    "…world2.. This leads to an extremely steep difficulty curve.."
    <– When talk about the difficulty and balancing it is hard to say…
    Difficult game of some player may be easy game for other player.
    Its depend on each player.
    But yes, this game is made to be difficult and challenging.
    Some will say it is not fair, frustrate, unbeatable or anything else.
    I said it depend on "point of view".

    Below is the true story..
    Another player can't beat boss of world2 too.
    He asked me is something wrong or is it beatable? Then I explain how to beat it.
    Finally it seem like he understands the deep tactic required
    to beat the boss and he can finally beat it without using easy mode.

    The game is design to be beatable in normal mode.
    But if you feel it is too hard, don't be shy, just use easy mode.
    You can turn it on or off anytime (by restart the game the easy mode will gone).
    Just think it is hidden option like retro game.

    "I leveled.. character to maximum, had enough money…Then, a shark came.. kill my characters"
    <– This is not the game that just grinding can make you win.
    Except from level and money, please consider the "tactic".
    The main concept is if it enters final phase it will be very aggressive and can kill player easily.
    So just beat it before it enters that phase.
    And learn how to -guard- against the boss heavy attack, heal quick and strike it back.
    And player should learn how to setup suitable artifact for this fight.
    I believe the game will fun if player likes to notice, learn and try to find solution.

    "…or you are used to this from soulslike or roguelike game s–, then you should give it a try."
    <– I like this sentence.
    This game is made to be hard like "soulslike" game.
    Player have to "prepare to die" and face the challenge.

    Hope the readers will understand the game better and with respect to the reviewer.
    Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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