REVIEWS
REVIEWS

April 2, 2018

Oliver

WanderjahR – Is this super hard JRPG worth a year of wandering?

April 2, 2018 | Oliver

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.


Oliver

Usually, you say: „If life gives you lemons, make lemonade of it.“ But my life was more like: „If life gives you hardware and video games, explore it.” Since I got my first GameBoy in 1999, I fell in love with video games and thought about it – or just enjoy playing until today. When I finish my day job, I love to explore the vast universe of gaming in as many parts as possible. Even the technical thoughts, next to narration and world-building, is an aspect that I love to dive into. Therefore, I accepted the challenge to write about Southeast Asian indie games, to explore a whole new genre to think outside of the box.

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