Title: The Wasteland
Platform: Steam, Windows
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Adventure, Metroidvania
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 16th September 2014
It’s not common that you find a game based on a poem, The Wasteland is one such game inspired by T.S Eliot’s poem of the same name. The Wasteland is a tale that sees the player in the role of King Zyron III, who must traverse the waste land to find a way to right a tragic mistake while fending off against the overwhelming waves of hostile creatures.
A genre I admittedly haven’t seen in a while, The Wasteland brands itself with a metroidvania frame and open world style. While at first this seems like a brilliant idea however it just doesn’t feel like it’s executed well, but I’ll divulge that later. Gameplay plays much like a standard Simon’s Quest where you go screen to screen with basic platforming, fighting enemies with an array of weapons (assuming you can find them) and defeating bosses to progress.
Now my biggest issue with the title is how it handles the guidelines involved with a metroidvania, while yes giving the player free reign to explore the vast world there’s little point in a vast world when it is almost empty of any substance. From screen to screen you will fight or flight past a ludicrous amount of enemies that yield absolutely zero point other than to draw out exploration aspects, enemies don’t give exp, gold or anything worthwhile other than the occasional food drop that can either heal or drain health.
In fairness you don’t need experience points or loot from enemies to make combat enjoyable, but combat is a dull slog with enemies absorbing stupendous amount of damage and little pattern learning or variation.
There’s even towns reminiscent of Simon’s Quest but while granted they were more cryptic than a 5 year old trying to understand Egyptian hieroglyphs but they were meant to informative and helpful; after 3 hours of The Wasteland I bumped into one useful villager out of several npcs.
You see there is a giant neon flashing flaw when your open world environment is extremely lacking in interactivity where there’s little point to explore it nor does it make up for a lack of constructive narrative.
The Wasteland sadly lacks much in the visual field as well, while I for one really enjoy pixel art as a presentation and love good ol’ nostalgia for NES graphics but when a game’s visual design does seemingly nothing to improve upon visuals then it’s nothing but being complacent and overly relying on a free retro pass. There are occasional nice set pieces but they make little impact and are so rare that it doesn’t distract from the mediocre environments.
Just sadly there isn’t much to say for The Wasteland, after 4 hours I felt like I had made so little progression besides finding a couple of heart containers, a bow and defeating a cheap bullet sponge of boss. Perhaps I just haven’t invested enough time for this title; there’s definitely some potential in The Wasteland and I do hate giving negative feedback on what is one man’s 4 year endeavour but The Wasteland just doesn’t grab my interest.
Varied enemy design,
Some Nice set pieces.
Large world lacks meaningful interactivity,
Most enemies are bullet sponges,
Lacking any direction.
The Wasteland was fairly meh, not bad but only gets a 4/10.