June 28, 2016

Andreas Betsche

Nothing is more heartbreaking than a story about friendship and ‘Wanda – A beautiful Apocalypse’ does its best at breaking our hearts

June 28, 2016 | Andreas Betsche

Wanda – A beautiful Apocalypse is a major PC game published on Steam by Kodots Games, an indie developer from Myanmar. Myanmar, located in Southeast Asia, was under military junta rule for several decades.

Some readers may be familiar with Aung San Suu Kyi’s fight for democracy during this time. Due to the challenging political situation, the country was closed to most outsiders, making game development an impossible dream. As a result, I was extremely curious about one of the first major game releases from Myanmar after the country’s opening in 2010.

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A robot awakens in an alien world.

In the game Wanda, players take control of a nameless robot who wakes up in a cryo chamber in a post-apocalyptic world. The game doesn’t give any explanation to the players, but instead, the story unfolds as the player guides the robot through the game. The gameplay mainly consists of exploration, cutscenes and puzzles. As players guide the robot through the torn and alien world, they can find hints that explain what happened there. It eventually becomes clear that the world was the home of robots. The exploration phases are often interrupted by in-game cutscenes in which the robot comments on robot corpses or dangers it encounters. The game offers five different puzzles that range in difficulty, from pushing stones to a laser labyrinth. These puzzles can be challenging, as seen in some videos where players face trouble in completing the first puzzle.

Fortunately, for players like myself, it is possible to skip the challenging puzzles and just enjoy the story. After overcoming those puzzles, I was able to delve deeper into the fascinating world of Wanda. The game doesn’t provide much explanation, which allowed me to make my own assumptions about Wanda’s background. The awakening of the robot in an unfamiliar world could be seen as the game developer’s initial foray into the global gaming market. As the story progressed, I even found myself drawing some parallels to Myanmar’s tumultuous past. However, most of this is mere speculation, and the true focus of the game is on the friendship between two adorable robots as they navigate through difficult times. It’s not intended as a commentary on Myanmar’s politics.

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One of the hardest puzzles.

I really enjoyed playing Wanda due to the game’s overall atmosphere and art. The lovely hand-drawn surroundings and decent soundtrack kept me going, even when the puzzles got frustrating. I highly recommend Wanda to players who enjoy story-rich games with a great atmosphere and challenging puzzles but don’t want to deal with complex controls or fast-paced action. Additionally, Wanda is an interesting contribution to Southeast Asia’s gaming scene.

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Wanda’s story is told in beautiful hand drawn cutscenes.

Full disclosure: This article is based on a free review key from Kodots Games that I thankfully received upon request. You can purchase the game on Steam for 9.99 $/€.

Andreas Betsche

Andreas Betsche founded Virtual SEA in early 2016 after researching Cambodian mobile games for his Master’s thesis. He has a background in Southeast Asia studies and has worked and lived in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Since he has been actively playing games since the early 90s, combing both worlds in Virtual SEA brought together both of his passions.

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